Drawbacks of Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security method that requires users to provide more than one piece of information to verify their identity when accessing an account or a system. MFA can use different types of factors, such as something you know (e.g., a password), something you have (e.g., a smartphone, tablet, MFA token, or laptop computer), or something you are (e.g., a fingerprint).

MFA Drawbacks

MFA is widely regarded as an effective way to enhance security and prevent unauthorized access, especially for remote and hybrid work environments. However, MFA is not a perfect solution, and it does have some drawbacks that users and organizations should be aware of.

User Experience

MFA can negatively affect the user experience, especially for services that require frequent authentication. Users may find MFA inconvenient or frustrating if it adds too much friction or delays to their interactions. This can result in a loss of productivity and confidence in corporate IT.

To improve customer experience, organizations should implement MFA in a way that balances security and convenience for users. Organizations should use risk-based authentication techniques that only prompt customers for additional verification, when necessary, based on factors such as location, device, behavior, or transaction value. Organizations should also offer customers various options for authentication methods that suit their preferences and needs.

Increased Complexity

Another drawback of MFA is that it can increase complexity for administrators. It often requires technical expertise and resources to implement and maintain MFA solutions, such as integrating them with existing applications and infrastructure, updating them regularly, and troubleshooting issues. MFA solutions may also introduce new vulnerabilities or compatibility issues that must be addressed.

Organizations should choose MFA solutions compatible with their existing systems and standards to reduce complexity, such as SAML or OAuth. They should also conduct regular audits and tests to ensure their MFA solutions work correctly and securely. Additionally, they should train their IT staff to manage and monitor MFA solutions effectively.


MFA can incur additional costs for organizations, which is another critical limitation. MFA solutions can be expensive to purchase, install, and operate, depending on the type and scale of the system. For example, hardware-based MFA methods, such as smart cards or token devices, may require purchasing and distributing physical devices to users. In contrast, software-based MFA methods, such as apps or web services, may require subscription or licensing fees.

Organizations should evaluate their security needs and budget to reduce costs before choosing an MFA system. They should also compare different options and vendors to find the best value for their money. In addition, they should consider MFA’s potential savings and benefits in reducing security breaches and improving user trust and satisfaction.

MFA Fatigue

MFA can also be vulnerable to fatigue attacks, where attackers spam users with authentication requests until they approve them out of frustration or confusion. MFA fatigue can allow attackers to bypass MFA and access users’ accounts without their consent. Fatigue attacks have been used by cybercriminal groups such as LAPSUS$ to breach the networks of large companies such as Uber and Microsoft.

To prevent fatigue attacks, organizations should educate their users on how to recognize and avoid them. Users should not approve any authentication requests they did not initiate or expect. Users should also report suspicious or repeated requests to their IT department or help desk. Also, organizations should consider MFA methods more resistant to fatigue attacks, such as biometric authentication or digital certificates.

False Sense of Security

MFA is not a foolproof solution and does not eliminate all cyber risks. Some forms of MFA, such as SMS-based codes or email-based links, can be intercepted or compromised by hackers. Users may also share their authentication factors with others or fall victim to phishing or social engineering attacks that trick them into revealing their credentials.


Digital certificates are an excellent form of phishing-resistant credentials that can be used to mitigate the challenges and limitations associated with traditional multifactor authentication solutions. When provisioned and managed properly, certificates provide strong, multifactor authentication for users and devices, eliminating the need for traditional MFA. See Digital Certificates and TPM for more information.

Learn More

Are you interested in learning more about implementing MFA or digital certificates in your organization? Fill out the form below, and I’ll respond with more information.