4 Best Practices for Test Automation with MFA

This is the first Best Practices blog post of a series from Kevin Parker.


Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an essential security measure to protect applications from unauthorized access. However, MFA poses challenges for test automation teams who need to strike a balance between comprehensive automation and MFA-enhanced security. This post covers test automation best practices to use when MFA is in the mix. These support effective automation with uncompromised security.

Best Practices

1. Understand the purpose of MFA: MFA is designed to defeat brute-force attacks and unauthorized access attempts. It is crucial to understand the rationale behind MFA when developing appropriate test automation best practices. Recognize that while automation is important, the primary objective of MFA is to safeguard the production application and its users’ data.

2. Devise an MFA workaround for testing: Work with the development team to devise a workaround that caters specifically to the test environment when an application-under-test (AUT) uses MFA. Here are some techniques.

  • Use a token that always works: Create a test-specific token that bypasses MFA and can be used exclusively for automation purposes.
  • Disable MFA altogether in the test environment: Temporarily disable MFA during testing to streamline the automation process. However, be cautious to enable it again for production environments.
  • Provide an API call for setting credentials: Develop an API endpoint that allows automation scripts to set the required MFA credentials programmatically.
  • Store the token in the database: Have the development team store the MFA token in the test database, allowing automation scripts to retrieve it during tests.
  • Utilize web SMS services: Integrate a web SMS service to retrieve the MFA token automatically during test automation.

3. Ensure that MFA is back in place when the application goes to production: Conduct manual tests to verify that the MFA workaround implemented for test automation purposes doesn’t exist in the production build. This ensures the integrity of the MFA process and avoids security vulnerabilities.

4. Maintain Separate Environments: Maintain a clear separation between the test and production environments. Test environments should have distinct configurations that facilitate efficient test automation. Ensure that the MFA workaround implemented for testing purposes DOES NOT carry over to the production environment, where MFA should function as intended.


Multi-Factor Authentication is a vital security measure, but presents challenges for test automation. By adopting the best practices outlined in this blog post, you will strike a balance between the need for MFA and the productivity of test automation.

Techniques to achieving successful test automation without compromising security include 1) collaborating with the development team, 2) creating workarounds for the test environment, 3) conducting manual testing that MFA is in place for production, and 4) maintaining separation between your test and prod environments.

These techniques support the ultimate goal of ensuring that the application is thoroughly tested while maintaining the highest level of security for end-users.

This is the first Best Practices blog post of a series from Kevin Parker.

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