Multifactor Authentication: How one extra step keeps your data safe
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most effective tools that your business can implement to prevent outside sources from accessing private and sensitive information. It is an IT security technology method that requires a user to provide two or more authentication factors to gain access to the desired information, rather than the use of a single password or pin.
MFA is designed to protect your business’ information from malicious activities, essentially making it significantly more difficult for cyber-criminals to steal your private information as the user will have to prove they have physical access to the second factor of authentication (e.g a fingerprint or smartcard).
Multi-factor authentication should be a combination of information that only the authenticated person will know and have access to. This could include information such as:
- a username, pin or password
- a fingerprint scan or retina scan
- a validation code which is sent to your mobile phone
By utilising a combination of the above MFA’s, this increases the security of your private information, making it harder for the data to be accessed illegally.
Why is MFA important, and why should you use this within your business?
With cyber-crimes on the rise, MFA is imperative to cyber-security. According to the Australian Cyber-crime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), there was a total of 13,687 reports of cyber-crime made to ACORN between April and June 2018. Cyber criminals frequently attempt to steal user credentials from businesses to allow easy access to private information.
These hacking attempts can often be undetected, as cyber criminals incorporate the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to further mask their activities. With the evolution of technology, it is now easier than ever before for hackers to breach cyber-security defences, making it more important than ever for organisations to take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
When MFA is implemented correctly within a business, it will make it explicitly more difficult for the data within your business to be compromised. MFA not only helps with the security of the data, but it also increases the productivity, flexibility and compliance of the business.
Having multi-factor authentication within a business is essential to minimise any security vulnerabilities that could greatly affect the data and privacy of both the organisation and its clients. Whilst it is not possible to stop all possible data breaches, implementing an MFA will significantly minimise the risk that your data will be comprised. After all, a vicious security breach for a business could prove detrimental to its future.
What are the benefits of using multi-factor authentication?
Implementing MFA allows the user to be notified when their credentials are being used on another device. This increases the difficulty for a cyber-attack to occur, and for a hacker to exploit the login process. According to ACORN, 30% of all cyber-crimes report within Australia last year occurred in Queensland. A system that uses two or more different authentication factors are typically considered stronger than those that use only one factor.
Implementing MFA within an organisation ensures that your business meets the necessary compliance standards that are relevant to your industry. Many of these compliance regulations state that organisations must utilise MFA when accessing particular types of data, or when a user logs in from a different location (such as employees working remotely).
The usability of an MFA revolves around one main concept: passwords are dead. With the number of devices, software programs and online accounts in use today, people have become too complacent about the complexity of their passwords. MFA eliminates the use for multiple passwords, by allowing the user to gain access via a physical FOB or a mobile device.
Top tips when implementing MFA within your organisation
Understand your requirements
Prior to implementing MFA, you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of how the MFA will be used. Looking at the key internal processes within your business will allow you to gain insight into whether the MFA will be deployed across cloud-based apps, locally stored apps, or both.
Account for future growth when choosing your MFA solution
When selecting a MFA solution, ensure that both the current and future needs of your business are considered. Elements such as the current number of employees, the types of devices you wish to protect and the level of MFA you wish to implement should form the basis of your decision.
Consider alternatives to phone-based MFA
A phone-based MFA is one of the most common forms of authentication due to the usability and accessibility for the user. However, if the user doesn’t have their phone on them at the time of authentication, or there is poor mobile reception in their location, the MFA process is rendered useless. You may want to consider the use of tokens or fingerprint scans if your employees frequently access information remotely.
With cyber-crimes on the increase, multi-factor authentication is imperative to an organisation’s cyber-security. Whilst the evolution of technology has provided invaluable benefits to businesses, it has also exposed them to new security threats that are continually evolving.
Cyber-criminals will continue to create more complex methods of stealing data, meaning that businesses must ensure their cyber-security strategies are more secure than ever before. Whilst eliminating the possibility of cyber-attacks completely is impossible, taking precautions such as utilising MFA within your business will significantly reduce the possibility of potential data breaches and may be the difference between your business avoiding a severe online attack.