As technology advances, so does the number of ways that cybercriminals can try to steal your data. One way to help bolster your security defences is by using multi-factor authentication.
While passwords are the most common form of authentication, they are undoubtedly the least secure and no longer cut it in an era of enhanced cyber attacks and data breaches.
In 2021 alone, a study revealed that there were up to 4145 breaches worldwide which exposed a staggering 22 billion records. These statistics are concerning, not only because of the vast amount of data that was leaked but also due to the fact that 61% of all data breaches are caused by compromised, weak and reused passwords.
The reality is that habits are hard to break. Nearly 50% of people reuse the same passwords across multiple accounts or choose easy-to-remember passwords that contain the names of family members, pets, and other easily identifiable information.
This approach to password security is very risky and can ultimately leave your business vulnerable to being hacked. Hackers also have a wide range of tools that they can use to crack passwords. Phishing remains the most popular method but using Brute Force Attack, they can test millions of password combinations every second.
If successful, hackers can then log into a system using a compromised password and impersonate a legitimate user. Once they’ve gained access, they can quietly move through a network stealing sensitive information or installing malware.
Clearly, the risks are high if your business is solely relying on a simple username and password combination to secure accounts. Multi-factor authentication is the best way to prevent attacks and ensure that multiple layers of defence are in place to protect your business.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication, also known as MFA, is a security measure that ensures only legitimate users can access accounts and applications. Essentially, it’s just a way of verifying that you are who you claim to be. Rather than just asking for a username and password, MFA requires two or more authenticating factors to confirm your identity. This means that even if one of the factors such as a password is stolen or breached, hackers are highly unlikely to have access to a second or third authenticating factor.
How does Multi-Factor Authentication work?
Multi-factor authentication uses multiple technologies to confirm a user’s identity. For example, if you were logging into an account with a username and password, you would be prompted to confirm your identity by inputting two or more authenticating factors. The more factors layered into the login process, the more difficult it is for hackers to gain unauthorised access to accounts.
Typically, there are three factors of authentication:
- Something you know - A password, PIN, or answer to a secret question.
- Something you have - A security token, phone, credit card, SIM, or physical Security Key.
- Something you are - Biometric data such as a fingerprint, voice, or facial recognition.
What are the benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication for your business?
Increased Security - The most obvious benefit of MFA for your business is heightened security protocols to protect your data. By requiring users to provide multiple credentials before accessing accounts, it makes it much more difficult for hackers to infiltrate your network.
Secure Remote Access - The move to remote and hybrid working has made it even more important for businesses to protect every access point from intruders. By implementing MFA, employees can securely access work applications and accounts without compromising the security of your business.
Compliance with Regulatory Standards - Many businesses are now subject to compliance regulations that require them to implement MFA to keep certain types of information private and secure from interception. For example, PCI-DSS requires MFA to be implemented in certain situations to prevent unauthorised users from accessing systems.
Reduces Fraud - Multi-factor authentication reduces the likelihood of fraud and identity theft as cybercriminals are unable to compromise logins with usernames and passwords alone. These extra layers of defence can make a huge difference to the security of your business. According to Microsoft, MFA can block over 99.9% of account attacks.
Adaptable for Different Use Cases - With more employees working outside of the office, businesses may require more advanced MFA solutions to manage high-risk scenarios. Adaptive MFA uses data such as geolocation, IP address and time since the last authentication to assess risk. For example, if an employee logs in from a coffee shop or connects over an unsecured Wi-Fi network, they may be asked to provide an additional authentication factor because they are working from an untrusted location, device or connection.
Don’t leave your business unprotected
Considering all these benefits, multi-factor authentication is an important security measure that should be implemented by all businesses to prevent cyber security incidents from occurring. By requiring more than one type of verification to log in, MFA makes it much more difficult for intruders to gain access to sensitive company data. If you’re one of the 67% of small businesses that don’t use MFA for any of their login points, now’s the time to invest in this effective security measure. To find out how we can help protect your business and secure it from unauthorised attacks, get in touch today for further info.