April 11, 2023

Anonybit Team

Which Is More Secure? Passwordless Authentication vs MFA

Blog person trying to log in - Passwordless vs MFA

When it comes to online security, there are two methods you should consider: Passwordless authentication vs MFA. Passwordless Security is an innovative approach that eliminates the need for passwords, while Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security. Both have their benefits, but which one is right for you? In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between Passwordless Authentication vs MFA, and help you decide the best fit for your security needs. Stay tuned for an in-depth comparison that will help you make an informed decision about your online security.

What Is Passwordless Authentication?

person wondering about Passwordless vs MFA

As the name suggests, passwordless authentication verifies a user’s identity without using passwords or knowledge-based factors. It enables secure logins by identifying that an account belongs to a user using other factors, such as biometrics. Biometrics includes anything related to someone’s physical or behavioral characteristics, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and voice patterns. 

The term “passwordless” becomes murky as some methods seem to remove passwords but still use them in some form during the authentication process. For example, some passwordless authentication processes may ask a user for a fingerprint to verify a “something you own” factor but then forward an activated password for authentication on the backend.

True passwordless eliminates all passwords in the entire authentication journey, even for account recovery.
Examples of Passwordless authentication:

  • Biometrics
  • Magic links
  • Passkeys

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What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

person working and drinking coffee - Passwordless vs MFA

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a digital identity verification system that requires users to pass several authentication checkpoints. It is similar to passwordless authentication in that it can leverage biometric or possessive factors, but the difference is that MFA almost always uses usernames and passwords.

To log into systems configured with MFA, users enter their username and password as usual. Then, they are prompted to show or enter something else, like a one-time access code sent through an authenticator app, a magic link sent to their email, or a fingerprint. Once they pass those mini-tests, they are logged in.

Examples of multi-factor authentication:

  • Username and password plus biometrics
  • Username and password plus a hardware security key
  • Username and password plus a TOTP code from an authenticator app

Key Differences Between Passwordless And MFA

aged woman understanding Passwordless vs MFA

Use of Passwords

Passwordless authentication eliminates passwords, while MFA is often used with a username and password. After entering their username and password, MFA prompts users to authenticate their identity with another method. 

Login Experience

Passwordless authentication is faster and more convenient than MFA. MFA is more time-consuming, and some codes expire in as little as 10 seconds. This can lead to employee frustration, especially if they have to log into multiple applications per day.


MFA ranges from easy-to-crack methods like SMS OTPs to complicated methods like FIDO tokens backed by biometric identifiers. The security level depends on the verification factors and the authentication process. The backend authentication method significantly affects MFA security, as the absence of shared secrets means nothing to steal.

Difficulty to Employ and Cost

Implementing passwordless authentication requires that accounts, applications, and software support this feature, making it more challenging for organizations. MFA deployment is less complex; it can be as simple as having employees download an authenticator app for free. 

Enhancing Security and User Experience with Anonybit’s Identity Management Platform

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics features. With our passwordless authentication with decentralized biometrics, companies can use our passwordless login feature, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication.

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication to eliminate account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit. Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

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Is Passwordless More Secure Than MFA?

woman wondering about security of Passwordless vs MFA

The battle between passwordless and MFA security is a hot topic in cybersecurity. Both options offer robust security features, but which one reigns supreme? 

Unphishable Credentials in Passwordless Authentication vs MFA

In almost every situation, opting for passwordless authentication is the way to go for ultimate security. The key reason for this is the unphishable nature of passwordless credentials. Simply put, unphishable credentials are the name of the game in the cybersecurity world. While MFA does offer increased security, not all forms of MFA are unphishable, whereas most forms of passwordless authentication are. This makes passwordless authentication a more secure choice in the battle of Passwordless Authentication vs MFA.

Reducing the Risk of Credential Theft

Credential theft through phishing attacks is one of the most common types of cyberattacks. By choosing to go passwordless, the risk of credential theft drops significantly. According to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, 56% of IT and infosec leaders experienced credential theft, while phishing accounted for 48% of attacks.

Microsoft’s Defense Report also highlighted that phishing attacks accounted for 70% of data breaches. Going passwordless can significantly reduce the risk of credential theft, making it a top choice for enhanced security in the Passwordless Authentication vs. MFA debate.

Best of Both Solutions For More Secure Authentication?

man using combination of keys - Passwordless vs MFA

Both passwordless authentication and MFA have unique benefits. While passwordless authentication offers higher security by eliminating the need for passwords, MFA adds a layer of security through multiple authentication steps. But what if we could combine the best features of both solutions for more secure authentication?

Transitioning with Passwordless Authentication + MFA

A transitional approach is often recommended for organizations looking to start using passwordless authentication. During the transition phase, strong passwords and MFA are still utilized while the organization prepares for the shift.

Getting Users Accustomed to MFA

Starting with MFA first can help users become familiar with various authentication methods, making the eventual shift to a fully passwordless environment smoother. This approach also allows the IT department to develop a comprehensive project plan for implementing passwordless authentication.

Support Limitations and Enhanced Security

Not all websites and applications currently support passwordless authentication. Users may still rely on strong passwords and MFA for certain accounts, systems, and applications in such cases. There are ways to implement passwordless authentication solutions that can autofill, while masking, passwords. In any case, enabling MFA whenever possible is better than doing nothing.

Combining Both Methods

Once users are comfortable and ready, an organization can move towards a passwordless environment. Some organizations take it a step further by combining passwordless authentication with MFA. This hybrid approach, known as passwordless MFA, offers a high level of security by leveraging both methods.

Organizations can enjoy enhanced security levels by combining the strengths of passwordless authentication and MFA. Strong passwords and MFA provide a solid foundation for transitioning to passwordless authentication, ensuring a seamless and secure authentication environment for users.

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Book A Free Demo To Learn More About Our Integrated Identity Management Platform

Anonybit is a game-changing security solution that aims to revolutionize the industry by offering passwordless authentication with decentralized biometrics. This innovative approach enhances security and promotes a more convenient and user-friendly customer experience. By leveraging decentralized biometrics, Anonybit empowers companies to prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud effectively. This advanced technology eliminates the need for traditional passwords, reducing the risk associated with credential-based attacks.

Passwordless Authentication: A New Era of Security

Passwordless authentication represents the next security frontier, offering a robust alternative to traditional password-based systems. By leveraging decentralized biometrics, Anonybit enables companies to secure their systems without compromising user experience.

This approach prevents data breaches and eliminates the risks associated with password theft and misuse. By enabling passwordless authentication, companies can enhance security while improving the overall user experience.

Enhancing Security with Decentralized Biometrics

Decentralized biometrics represent a cutting-edge technology that provides a secure and reliable alternative to traditional authentication methods. By storing biometric data securely and leveraging advanced encryption techniques, Anonybit ensures that sensitive information remains protected.

This approach enhances security and simplifies the authentication process, making it more convenient for users. By adopting decentralized biometrics, companies can strengthen their security posture while promoting a more user-friendly experience for their customers.

Preventing Data Breaches and Account Takeover Fraud

Data breaches and account takeover fraud threaten companies and their customers. Organizations can effectively address these risks by leveraging Anonybit’s passwordless authentication with decentralized biometrics and prevent unauthorized access to their systems.

This advanced security solution eliminates the vulnerabilities associated with traditional passwords, reducing the likelihood of successful cyberattacks. By preventing data breaches and account takeover fraud, companies can protect their assets and maintain the trust of their customers.

The Future of Security: Anonybit’s Integrated Identity Management Platform

Anonybit’s integrated identity management platform offers a comprehensive solution for companies looking to enhance their security posture. By combining passwordless authentication with decentralized biometrics, Anonybit provides a robust and reliable security solution that addresses the evolving threats facing organizations today.

This innovative approach prevents data breaches and account takeover fraud and simplifies the authentication process, making it more convenient for users. By adopting Anonybit’s integrated identity management platform, companies can stay ahead of the curve and protect their assets in an increasingly digitized world. 

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