Optiv Cybersecurity Dictionary

What is Adaptive Authentication?

Adaptive authentication is a method for selecting the right authentication factors depending on a user's risk profile and tendencies, adapting the authentication type to each situation.


This is a new approach to authentication that adds additional security while minimizing the intrusiveness of the process on users. There are two key components: threat and risk checks and multi-factor authentication (MFA). Risk checks are performed in the background without user awareness. MFA takes place only if a risk is detected.


For example, during a login attempt, a risk check may look at the reputation of a user’s network, the source’s geographic location or a device’s characteristics. If an anomaly is detected, MFA kicks in to help authenticate the login attempt.

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