Passwords have been the long-standing fundamental for securing user accounts and business data. Today, many see them as practically useless. Recent research finds that 15 billion credentials are circulating the dark web. Could your information be there? We cannot rule out the possibility.
Consider if one of your organization’s employees saved corporate information on their Google drive. Because there are so many interconnected Google accounts (email, calendars, YouTube), a cybercriminal could acquire a multitude of information. Similarly, many have the bad habit of using the same email and password for multiple accounts. All a hacker has to do is steal credentials for a single platform to access all.
In today’s extremely unpredictable environment, risking the release of important business data is a critical mistake. That’s where multi-factor authentication comes in. Security can no longer be achieved through a single wall of defense; rather, a layered approach is essential. When criminals have a harder time gaining access, the less enticing your data will be to them.
There are many ways for organizations to safeguard data, so why is multi-factor authentication? This validation method is a core component of enhancing a business’s security. Certainly, usernames and passwords are important but are incredibly vulnerable to brute force attacks. Using MFA lowers this possibility significantly, increasing confidence that cybercriminals will not take advantage of poor methods.
How it Works
MFA requires two or more verification factors to access resources. There are three main methods used:
- Knowledge, for example, a password or PIN
- Possession, such as a smartphone
- Inherence, for instance, a fingerprint
Another common technique is the one-time password. OTP’s are usually codes sent to an email, mobile application, or SMS. Location factors, such as GPS tracking, are also used to ensure logins are from the correct IP address.
Adaptive or Risk-based authentication is another subset of MFA. This method considers context and behavior to determine the risk associated with an action. For example, an employee usually works 9:00-5:00 and logs into their email when they first arrive to work. If this same user seemingly accesses their email at 8:00 pm from an unusual network, this action will force additional authentication.
Multi-factor authentication is a rather easy form of security, yet it is incredibly effective. According to a Microsoft study, nearly 100% of account hacks are blocked thanks to MFA.
The New Threat Landscape
Innumerable businesses have turned to MFA in the wake of changing workplace environments and increased regulations. Though GDPR doesn’t affect many U.S. organizations, the chances that such legislation will come to fruition here is likely. The NIST framework also suggests sophisticated security policies. Add that onto the proliferation of remote work, and MFA is only bound to grow in use. Now that employees are mostly out of the office, more advanced verification is needed to manage complex access requests. For example, many staff members use their own computers and networks for work purposes. Unlike headquarters, these devices and connections are not immediately considered secure and prompt additional authentication. Similarly, many companies are moving systems to the cloud, meaning that not everyone is physically on the same network. With users accessing systems from anywhere at any time, extra validation is needed.
Security Without the Compromise
When it comes to keeping an organization safe from cybercriminals on the outside and employee mistakes on the inside, things can quickly become convoluted and confusing. Multi-factor authentication manages to secure the business environment, the employees, and the devices without sacrificing user experience. Unlike other measures, MFA is simple and easy to deploy, making staff implementation much more likely.
In a world where cybersafety seems out of reach, organizations can rest easy knowing that one of the measures they need is straightforward and extremely effective.