What are the Three Aspects of a 3 Factor Authentication?

What are the Three Aspects of a 3 Factor Authentication?

Many companies are interested in implementing a three-factor authentication (3FA) process to help protect user credentials.

In this post, we’ll discuss the three aspects of a 3FA and how they work together to ensure the highest level of security.

We’ll also cover the best practices for implementing a 3FA process, some common implementation questions, and the considerations for implementing a passwordless authentication solution your organization.

What is the 3-Factor Authentication Process?

Three-factor authentication is the use of a user’s credentials sourced from three different aspects of authentication factors. The three include knowledge, possession, and inherence. This type of authentication is used mainly in governments and organizations requiring high levels of security. The idea behind the 3FA is to improve security by requiring a user to submit the correct information in all three categories to enter to a system. The user needs to give information from at least one element in each aspect for it to be a 3-factor authentication. If he provides credentials from only two categories, it becomes 2-factor authentication (2FA). If it’s four aspects, then it is 4-factor authentication.

Three Aspects of a 3-factor Authentication

Below are the three aspects used 3-factor authentication.


The knowledge aspect asks for something you know. This factor refers to the information you knew beforehand that you must submit to log in to a system. Examples include usernames, passwords, security questions, and PINs and IDs. The knowledge factor isn’t secure enough as an only login credential. Someone can easily steal or guess a PIN or password. There need to be other authentication factors for the system to be secure.


The possession aspect asks for something you have. This factor refers to a physical possession you must provide to log in. Examples include one-time password (OTP) tokens, SIM cards, smart cards, mobile phones and employee ID cards. The possession factor on its own is also not enough security. Someone can steal the physical item and submit it to the system to log in.


The inherence aspect asks for something you are. This factor requires you to confirm a biological trait to log in to the system. Examples include biometrics such as fingerprint scans, facial recognition, retina scans, voice recognition, and voice geometry. The inherence aspect is considered the strongest of the three, but it is still breakable if used on its own. For example, in the case of facial recognition, someone can use a picture of the required face to enter the system.

Best Practices for Implementing a 3-Factor Authentication Process

The three-factor authentication process is considered highly secure because a user should submit credentials on all three aspects to log in to the system. If they only have to submit information on one aspect, then the system wouldn’t be secure enough. Someone can easily get into it.
However, the reliability of the 3FA doesn’t rely only on the number of aspects but also on how they get implemented. For the system to be highly secure, it’s vital that you select choices in each category that are a hard nut to crack.

Some Common Questions to Ask when Implementing the 3FA Process

To help you implement the 3-factor authentication process, here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. What are my security requirements? By asking yourself this question, you’ll be able to assess the degree of security you need.
  2. What choices in each aspect are best for my security requirements? Choose the ones that give you the best degree of security.
  3. What is my budget? Some choices in each authentication factor may cost more than others.
  4. Will the 3-factor authentication cater to my future needs? Implement a 3FA process that you can rely on in the future when your organization expands and your security needs increase.

So what are the three aspects of a 3 factor authentication?

The three-factor authentication process requires credentials from three different aspects to permit a user to log in. The three are knowledge, possession, and inherence. Users need to provide information on all three to enter a system.