Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an easy-to-use and effective authentication method. In addition to username password authentication, MFA provides an extra layer of protection. MFA enhances security for your account.

Types of MFA devices

MFA devices have various types. Alibaba Cloud supports the following two types:

  • Virtual MFA devices

    Time-based one-time cipher algorithm (TOTP) is a widely adopted multi-factor authentication protocol. Applications that support TOTP on devices such as mobile phones are called virtual MFA devices, for example, the Alibaba Cloud app and Google Authenticator. If a user enables MFA, the user must enter the 6-digit verification code that is generated on the application when the user logs on to the Alibaba Cloud Management Console. This prevents unauthorized logon due to password theft.

  • U2F security keys

    Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) is a widely accepted multi-factor authentication protocol that is created by the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance. The protocol is used to provide an efficient and universal multi-factor authentication method. U2F security keys are a type of MFA device that supports the U2F protocol, such as Yubikey produced by Yubico. To use a U2F security key for authentication, a user can plug the key to a USB port on a computer and then tap the key to complete the logon process.

Usage notes

If MFA is enabled for a user, the user must perform the following operations when the user logs on to the Alibaba Cloud Management Console:

  1. Enter the username and password of the RAM user.
  2. Enter the verification code that is generated by the virtual MFA device or pass the U2F authentication.

For more information, see Enable an MFA device for an Alibaba Cloud account and Enable an MFA device for a RAM user.


  • Virtual MFA devices can be used when you log on to the Alibaba Cloud Management Console from a browser or the Alibaba Cloud app.
  • U2F security keys have the following limits:
    • U2F security keys can be used only on computers with USB ports. If you log on to Alibaba Cloud from a mobile browser or the Alibaba Cloud app, you cannot use U2F security keys. If you use a virtual machine or Remote Desktop Connection, U2F authentication is inapplicable.
    • You can use U2F security keys only when you log on to the console by using the domain name. If you use the domain name that was previously supported by Alibaba Cloud, U2F authentication is inapplicable.
    • Only the following browser versions support the U2F protocol:
      • Google Chrome 38 and later
      • Opera 40 and later
      • Mozilla Firefox 57 and later
        Note If you use a Mozilla Firefox browser, you must manually enable the U2F feature. Enter about:config in the address bar of your browser to go to the browser configuration page. On this page, search for u2f, and then set the security.webauth.u2f parameter to true. For more information, see the Mozilla Firefox help documentation.