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Multi-Factor Auth

Multi-Factor Authentication

A composable API for implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for basic authentication strategies.

The Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) API is intended to be a composable, unopinionated set of endpoints that can be integrated into existing application/session management strategies.

The available types of authentication factors are:

  • totp – Time-based one-time password
  • sms – One-time password via SMS message

The MFA API is not intended to be used with the WorkOS SSO feature. It’s recommended to leverage the MFA features of the Identity Provider that is powering your SSO implementation.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of enrolling new authentication factors for a user, and the challenge/verification process for existing authentication factors.

This guide will show you how to:

  1. Create an Authentication Factor
  2. Challenge the Authentication Factor
  3. Verify the Challenge

To get the most out of this guide, you’ll need:

Authentication Factor
A factor of authentication that can be used in conjunction with a primary factor to provide multiple factors of authentication.
Authentication Challenge
A request for an Authentication Factor to be verified.

We’ll first need to enroll a new Authentication Factor.

WorkOS offers native SDKs in several popular programming languages. Choose a language below to see instructions in your application’s language.

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As a best practice, your WorkOS API key should be kept secret and set as an environment variable on process start. The SDK is able to read the key automatically if you store it in an environment variable named WORKOS_API_KEY; otherwise, you will need to set it manually. The Client ID should also be set dynamically based on the release environment.

Environment Variables

Use the TOTP type when the user is using a third-party authenticator app such as Google Authenticator or Authy.

Enroll Endpoint

The response returns a qr_code and a secret. The qr_code value is a base64 encoded data URI that is used to display the QR code in your application for enrollment with an authenticator application.

The secret can be entered into some authenticator applications in place of scanning a QR code.

Now that we’ve successfully created an authentication factor, we’ll need to save the ID for later use. It’s recommended that you persist the factor ID in your own user model according to your application’s needs.

Next we’ll initiate the authentication process for the newly created factor which we’ll refer to as a challenge.

Challenge Endpoint

Now that we’ve successfully challenged the authentication factor, we’ll need to save the challenge ID for the last step, challenge verification.

The last step in the authentication process is to verify the one time password provided by the end-user.

Verify Endpoint

If the challenge is successfully verified valid will return true. Otherwise it will return false and another verification attempt must be made.


If a challenge was already successfully verified, it cannot be used a second time. If further verification is needed in your application, create a new challenge.


For SMS authentication factors, challenges are only available for verification for 10 minutes. After that they are expired and cannot be verified.


We’ve now successfully verified an end-user’s authentication factor. This authentication factor can now be used as a second factor of authentication in your application’s existing authentication strategy.

The ID of the authentication factor should be persisted in your application for future authentication challenges.