MFA Fatigue Attack: When Notifications Overload Your Security

Jarrod Koch

CEO and Partner of DivergeIT

October 5, 2023

In today's digital age, where cybersecurity is paramount, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) stands as a formidable barrier against identity-based attacks. It's a critical layer of defense that requires users to provide not just one, but multiple forms of verification to access their accounts. However, as the use of MFA becomes more widespread, a new threat emerges – MFA fatigue attacks. In this article, we'll delve into the world of MFA fatigue attacks, explore how they work, and most importantly, discover ways to prevent them.

Understanding MFA fatigue attacks

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has become a cornerstone of online security. It adds an extra layer of protection beyond the traditional username and password, typically involving something the user knows (password) and something they have (a security token or smartphone). This combination has proven effective in thwarting attackers.

However, as the popularity of MFA grows, attackers have adapted, developing new techniques to overcome it. MFA fatigue attacks are one such method that involves overwhelming users with a barrage of MFA notifications, ultimately tricking them into approving fraudulent login attempts.

Understanding MFA Fatigue Attacks - How to Prevent MFA Fatigue

MFA fatigue attack: A 2-10x increase in threats

MFA fatigue attacks exploit the very system designed to protect you. Here's how it works:

When a user attempts to log in, they receive a push notification, commonly through a smartphone app, prompting them to approve the login. In an ideal scenario, this extra step ensures security. However, attackers use this against you by bombarding you with an excessive number of MFA notifications.

The anatomy of an MFA fatigue attack

An MFA fatigue attack typically follows a series of steps designed to overwhelm the victim and manipulate their decision-making:

Initiate the MFA bombing

Attackers send a barrage of MFA notifications to the victim, often numbering in the dozens or even hundreds. These notifications appear to be legitimate login requests, exploiting the victim's desire to maintain security.

Gain access through social engineering

The victim, overwhelmed by the constant stream of notifications, may hastily approve a fraudulent request, believing it to be a genuine login attempt. This is a form of social engineering, where psychological manipulation leads to compromised security.

Leverage compromised credentials

Once the attacker gains access to the victim's account, they have a foothold to exploit. This could involve stealing sensitive data, initiating further attacks, or even using the compromised account as a launching pad for additional cyberattacks.

How MFA Fatigue Attacks Work - Unveiling the Intricacies of MFA Overload

MFA fatigue attack prevention: Best practices

The key to safeguarding against MFA fatigue attacks lies in understanding how they operate and implementing best practices to reduce the risk. Here are some strategies to protect yourself:

1. Educate end users

Raise awareness among users about the existence of MFA fatigue attacks and how they work. Knowledge is the first line of defense.

2. Use two-factor authentication wisely

Consider using a mix of MFA methods, including biometrics, time-based codes, and hardware tokens. This diversity can make it more challenging for attackers to bombard users with notifications.

3. Implement delayed notifications

Introduce a slight delay in MFA notifications to allow users time to recognize a potentially fraudulent attempt. This brief pause can make a significant difference.

4. Limit the number of MFA requests

Set thresholds for the number of MFA requests a user can receive within a specific time frame. This can help prevent attackers from overwhelming users.

5. Verify before approving

Encourage users to verify the legitimacy of MFA notifications before approving them. A momentary pause to double-check can prevent a potential security breach.

6. Monitor MFA requests

Implement monitoring systems to track the number and type of MFA requests. Unusual patterns can be indicative of an attack in progress.

7. Invest in security key solutions

Consider using security keys as an additional layer of authentication. These physical devices provide a high level of security.

8. Educate on social engineering threats

Train users to recognize social engineering tactics and report suspicious activities promptly.

9. Be wary of phishing attempts

Phishing attacks, where an attacker tricks you into revealing sensitive information, can be the precursor to MFA fatigue attacks. Educate users on how to spot phishing attempts.

10. Regularly update security protocols

Stay current with the latest security developments and updates, and ensure that your MFA system is up-to-date with the latest security features.

Preventing MFA Fatigue Attacks - Strengthening Your Digital Fortifications

The role of multi-factor authentication push notifications overloads security

Push notifications play a pivotal role in MFA fatigue attacks. These notifications are the primary means through which attackers bombard victims, creating a sense of urgency and confusion. Users become overwhelmed by the constant influx of requests, which can lead to lapses in judgment.

The Uber breach of September 2022: A case in point

The Uber breach in September 2022 serves as a prime example of how MFA fatigue attacks can lead to severe security breaches. In this incident, cybercriminals exploited the overload of MFA notifications to gain unauthorized access to Uber accounts. The attackers overwhelmed users with a flurry of login requests, causing some to inadvertently approve fraudulent ones.

The critical need for preventative measures

The rise of MFA fatigue attacks underscores the importance of implementing robust security measures. Organizations and individuals alike must adapt to the evolving threat landscape. While MFA remains a potent security feature, it is not immune to abuse. By staying informed, educating users, and employing the best practices outlined earlier, you can bolster your defenses against MFA fatigue attacks.

Beyond MFA: Strengthening your security posture

In addition to protecting against MFA fatigue attacks, it's essential to consider the broader cybersecurity landscape. Strengthening your overall security posture can further safeguard your digital presence.

1. Diversify authentication methods

Consider incorporating additional layers of authentication beyond MFA, such as biometrics, behavioral analytics, or geolocation verification. These methods can provide added security without relying solely on notifications.

2. Regularly update passwords

While MFA is a powerful tool, the password is still a crucial component of security. Encourage users to use strong, unique passwords and update them regularly to mitigate the risk of credential compromise.

3. Monitor for unusual activity

Implement continuous monitoring systems to detect unusual login patterns or suspicious activity. Promptly investigate and respond to any anomalies.

4. Educate your team

Educate employees or users about the latest cybersecurity threats, including MFA fatigue attacks, phishing, and social engineering. Awareness is a powerful defense.

5. Collaborate with MFA providers

Work closely with your MFA providers to stay up-to-date on the latest security features and enhancements. Providers often release updates to address emerging threats.

Recognizing Legitimate Authentication Requests - A User's Guide

The road ahead: Staying one step ahead of cyber threats

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, MFA fatigue attacks remind us of the importance of staying vigilant and proactive. The world of cybersecurity is dynamic, and threat actors continually adapt their tactics. By understanding the methods they employ, educating end users, and implementing robust security measures, we can mitigate the risks posed by MFA fatigue attacks and other emerging threats.


In conclusion, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) remains an essential stronghold in online security, but it's not immune to vulnerabilities. MFA fatigue attacks serve as a stark reminder that even the most resilient security measures can be exploited by hackers when users are not sufficiently informed and protected. To fortify your digital identity and assets, it's crucial to adopt the best practices highlighted here and stay vigilant against hacking attempts and the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Ready to fortify your digital defenses against MFA fatigue attacks? Take action today and bolster your online security. Contact our expert cybersecurity team at DivergeIT for personalized guidance and to safeguard your digital identity now!

Securing Sensitive Data from MFA Fatigue Attacks - Fortifying Your Digital Safe

Frequently asked questions

What is an MFA fatigue attack?

An MFA Fatigue Attack, also known as MFA bombing, is a type of cyberattack that overwhelms users with a barrage of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) notifications to trick them into approving fraudulent login attempts. Attackers exploit the overload of notifications to gain unauthorized access to accounts or devices.

How do MFA fatigue attacks work?

MFA fatigue attacks work by sending an excessive number of MFA requests to the victim, bombarding them with notifications that appear to be legitimate login attempts. The victim, overwhelmed by the notifications, may inadvertently approve a fraudulent one, giving the attacker access to their account.

How do MFA providers respond to MFA fatigue attacks?

MFA providers are continually working to enhance their security measures to counter emerging threats like MFA fatigue attacks. They often update their systems to detect unusual patterns and improve user authentication experiences.

Can MFA fatigue attacks affect both individuals and organizations?

Yes, MFA fatigue attacks can impact both individuals and organizations. Cybercriminals may target individuals to gain unauthorized access to personal accounts, while organizations may be targeted to access sensitive corporate data.

How can I stay informed about the latest security threats like MFA fatigue attacks?

Staying informed about the latest security threats, including MFA fatigue attacks, involves regularly monitoring reputable cybersecurity news sources, attending security conferences, and participating in security awareness programs.

What is the best way to protect sensitive data from MFA fatigue attacks?

The best way to protect sensitive data from MFA fatigue attacks is to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes user education, robust authentication methods, and proactive monitoring of authentication requests.

Are there any specific security features to look for in MFA systems to counter MFA fatigue attacks?

When selecting MFA systems, look for features that offer user-friendly authentication experiences, the ability to set limits on authentication requests and options for diverse authentication methods to counter MFA fatigue attacks effectively.

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