The shift towards a hybrid in-house/remote work environment is on the rise, thanks to improvements in technology and the use of cloud-based applications. Employees can work where they want with minimal tools while getting the same amount of work (if not more) done outside of the office. The use of mobile devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones to conduct business continues to skyrocket with no signs of slowing down.
This shift in the way companies conduct business comes with a new set of vulnerabilities just waiting to be capitalized on by cybercriminals. To stay ahead of these potential threats, many IT decision-makers are opting to implement Multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a means of protecting their employees and critical business information. MFA has many benefits for not only remote staff, but those working with cloud-based applications within the office as well.
Let’s take a deeper look at what MFA is and how it can help improve security, enhance productivity, and help businesses meet increasingly stringent compliance guidelines.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication is a process for authenticating the identity of a person through two or more methods before allowing access to certain applications or accounts. Typically, the use of a confirmation email, text, or phone call is used as the alternative method for identity verification in addition to the use of a password. Some applications or accounts have mobile applications that can be installed on employees’ smartphones that offer push notifications as a means for secondary authentication.
Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication
According to Forbes, 74% of all data breaches originated with privileged credential abuse. Identity theft is the second leading form of cybercrime worldwide, only beaten by phishing scams. Threat actors can gain access to your most critical business information with only a single compromised account, whether that person is in the office or working remotely.
With MFA, cyber sleuths will have a much harder time accessing corporate data through stolen credentials because of the multi-tier authentication process. Not only would a cybercriminal have to know the username and password of the account they’ve compromised, but they’ll need access to the user’s corporate email address, cell phone, or other secondary device. This significantly reduces the threat of identity theft, up to 99% according to Microsoft.
Helping Meet Security Compliance Guidelines
Because more and more business is being conducted in the cloud and outside of traditional data centers, many businesses need to take a more rigorous approach to meeting compliance guidelines or requirements. For example, businesses storing data in the cloud or those that retain personally identifiable information (PII) are required to work with SOC-2 compliant vendors and maintain HIPAA compliance. Financial institutions, schools, and hospitals have their own sets of compliance regulations as well.
Many compliance guidelines require a firm grasp of identity management and MFA is an important step in creating a zero-trust environment.
The traditional method for storing data and applications in a data center (in-house or hosted) is shifting in favor of cloud-based storage and web applications. This is especially beneficial for companies that have a large remote staff attempting to access company data from all around the world because cloud apps are easier to access. Many applications have a simple web URL for access, and the security measures are taken on the backend.
This level of broad access across many geo-locations can create gaps in security if user authentication is not properly managed. MFA gives businesses the flexibility to implement cloud solutions and deploy web-based applications knowing that unauthorized application access is protected by more than a username and password. These applications can be easily accessed by remote staff no matter where they choose to work, therefore enhancing productivity. Also, push notifications from solutions like Duo help reduce any impact the additional security step adds to employee day-to-day work.
The Case for Cisco Duo
Duo is an MFA solution that contributes to you creating a zero-trust environment. With Cisco Duo, you have the ability to verify the identity of all user accounts and devices across your entire organization. You’ll have detailed visibility into every single device on your network, and the opportunity to securely integrate MFA into many of your cloud applications.
If You Connect It, Protect It
If your hybrid remote workforce connects to business applications and accesses proprietary business data, you need to take the proper precautions to protect your information. One of the best ways to protect critical business information is to include an MFA solution in your identity management platform.
To learn more about MFA and other security solutions for remote or hybrid-remote environments, visit our security services overview.