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Multi-Factor Authentication: The Simple First Step to Increased Cybersecurity

What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

MFA is an authentication method where a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more independent pieces of information (or factors) to an authentication mechanism. Think of it as a similar procedure to calling your financial services provider where you must answer a set of security questions to enable you to discuss your account.

61% of data breaches involve the use of unauthorised credentials. This isn’t surprising as passwords can easily be forgotten, stolen, or compromised. MFA is an additional security step that helps protect your online accounts by making it harder for cybercriminals to access them. 

The most common form of MFA that you might already be familiar with are one-time passwords (OTPs). OTPs are digit codes generated each time an authentication request is submitted and are generally received by email, text, or by a mobile app. The below diagram demonstrates how this form of MFA works.

 Multi factor Authentication Diagram

 

What Factors Can Be Used for Multi-Factor Authentication?

There are three main types of MFA authentication methods that are commonly used, these include:

 

knowledge factor multifactor authentication Something you know (knowledge factor), such as a password or pin
possession factor multifactor authentication

Something you have (possession factor), such as a security token or code received via a smartphone

inherence factor mutlifactor authentication Something you are (inherence factor), such as biometrics like fingerprint, voice, or facial recognition

 

What are the Benefits of Deploying Multi-Factor Authentication? 

When accessing cloud and internet-connected services it is important to have MFA enabled, especially if your organisation has adopted hybrid working. Adding MFA as an extra layer of security can help reduce the risk of cybersecurity breaches by up to 99.9%. Below we highlight the benefits of deploying MFA within your organisation.

> Adds an Additional Layer of Security

Data breaches are increasing in number every day. One of the most common ways cyber criminals gain access to an organisation’s data is through weak or stolen passwords. As MFA requires users to provide multiple authentication factors for access, cybercriminals can be prevented from entering your networks with compromised credentials.

> Reduces Risk from Weak or Compromised Passwords

Users will often reuse passwords across multiple online accounts and freely share them with colleagues, friends, and family. Credentials can also be stolen through malicious activities such as phishing, social engineering, or brute force attacks. MFA reduces the risk from weak, shared, or stolen passwords by requiring an extra authentication method.

> Enables Mobility

With the increase in remote working, it is important to offer employees simple access to resources whilst maintaining the security of your data and networks. MFA offers employees the flexibility and 24/7 access required to remain productive and keep your organisation secure.

> Easy Setup and Scalable

Whether your organisation has 5 or 100,000 users MFA is scalable dependant on your current requirements. With no dedicated hardware required, it can be swiftly deployed on any server allowing all end users secure access to data and systems no matter their location.

> Helps Meet Regulatory Requirements

Compliance standards such as GDPR and HIPAA stress the need for stronger authentication methods, whilst PCI-DSS and GLBA mandate the use of MFA. If your organisation handles financial transactions, it is not an optional but required solution. Implementing MFA also shows your organisation is serious about securing its supply chain and building trust with your customers.

> Customisable

MFA authentication supports the use of biometrics, mobile applications, push notifications, hard tokens, and SMS for OTP delivery, along with custom methods. There is the ability to factor in a user’s geolocation and IP address to assess risk. If a risk is posed, additional authentication factors can be requested, giving further assurance of the user’s identity.

Don’t Delay! Secure Your Organisation with MFA Today

Microsoft has recently highlighted that MFA adoption continues to remain low with only 22% of its enterprise customers enabling it. It’s staggering considering the additional protection authentication offers and how simple it is to implement. In some cases, MFA will be already built into an application or service and will only require a few simple steps to activate it. This blog offers guidance on setting up MFA on popular online services like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and social media platforms.

To fully protect your endpoints, data, and users, it is highly recommended that you should invest in a fit for purpose multi-factor authentication solution. Deploying MFA within your organisation is a simple and effective way to secure your data and systems from unauthorised access. While MFA may require some initial upfront investment, in the long run it could help reduce the costs associated with downtime and data loss caused by malicious threats.

If you would like support or guidance implementing MFA within your organisation contact our friendly sales team.

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