In our world today, people give up their passwords to cybercriminals regularly. Trusting browser-based password managers, repeating passwords for multiple accounts, or using easy-to-guess passwords all play a role in making it easier for cybercriminals to access corporate systems and data.
In the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, approximately 61% of the total number of breaches studied leveraged stolen or weak credentials, highlighting the ongoing need to strengthen password security across accounts. The addition of multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps accomplish this, which is why it’s such an essential part of ZAG’s list of more than 200 documented standards.
MFA is a process that authenticates the identity of a person through two or more methods before allowing access to specific applications or accounts. Here are five facts about MFA that will help you make that case for multi-factor authentication at your company:
1. MFA takes a layered approach. One of the main benefits of MFA is that it provides an additional layer of protection for systems used by non-technical employees. With MFA, employees can still use their username/password (“something they know”), but an extra step is added by injecting “something they have” into the account access process, for example, a confirmation email, text message or phone call, or push notification via an app such as Duo. Some applications can also use biometrics as a method for user authentication.
2. MFA helps protect corporate data. Threat actors can access your most critical business information with only a single compromised account, whether that person is in the office or working remotely. By implementing MFA, cybercriminals will have a much harder time accessing corporate data through stolen credentials because of the multi-tier authentication process. In this example, they obtained account credentials, but they will not likely have your cell phone and therefore cannot complete the access protocol.
3. MFA can help meet compliance guidelines. Many compliance guidelines require a firm grasp of identity management, and MFA is an important step in creating a zero-trust environment. As more businesses move critical data out of on-premise data centers into the cloud, the process for protecting the information must take into account how companies meet compliance guidelines or requirements. Personally identifiable information (PII) retention, for example, requires businesses to work with SOC-2 compliant vendors and maintain HIPAA compliance.
4. MFA is a normal part of our lives. MFA for personal use is already a part of our lives. Consumer-focused online services, such as banking, social media, or web email providers, have adopted tools to authenticate users when accessing their systems. Implementing MFA will be more accepted than in the past because of its now frequent use by consumer services.
5. MFA is essential. Security solutions that protect an organization’s network, such as anti-virus systems and advanced firewalls, along with ongoing updates and vulnerability tests, are necessary elements of a robust security strategy. But without user authentication, the door to your network (so to speak) is wide open. MFA implementation is essential to strengthening an organization’s security posture.
Incorporating apps and push notifications
Some MFA applications or accounts have mobile applications installed on employees’ smartphones that offer push notifications as a means for secondary authentication, such as Cisco Duo. This can help minimize any impact the additional security step adds to day-to-day work. More on these benefits here:
IT leaders already have a lot to consider when implementing technology strategy, and security concerns can potentially keep them up at night. MFA is not foolproof, but it’s an effective option for protecting accounts that are password protected.
If you would like to explore the benefits multi-factor authentication can deliver to your business, our technology strategy team is here to help.