Identifying and validating the user is a major concern in a heterogeneous network domain. Conventional algorithms and mechanisms could authenticate the users/messages, but with certain vulnerabilities. This paper analyzes the vulnerabilities and downsides of some present-day authentication mechanisms that are being used and proposes an authentication mechanism that cannot be bypassed easily. The proposed mechanism incorporates multi-factor authentication and validates the user based on a username, a password, a security question which is sent to the user via Short-Message-Service (SMS), and a security pin (if necessary). List of security questions posed to the end-user makes the proposed mechanism stronger and protect the system from security breaches by an unknown user to guess the answer. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.