What Are The Benefits Of Multi-Factor Authentication?
Everything you need to know about Multi-Factor Authentication, and how it keeps your organization secure.
In the cloud based era, passwords are not enough to keep all of your business accounts secure and protected, which means businesses should be considering Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) solutions. With the growth in popularity of SaaS, even the very smallest businesses can have dozens of different accounts, each holding access to sensitive company or customer data which needs to be protected.
This can become extremely difficult for users to manage, especially as the average user now has over 100 different accounts. This causes employees to use easily guessed, or reuse passwords across accounts, which leaves gaps in the overall security of an organization. MFA can help organizations deal with these security risks by helping employees to manage account access and ensuring that accounts have multiple layers of security. Every app, device and login is a pathway into your business, and organizations of all sizes need to ensure that they are protected. This article will cover the main identity security risks facing businesses, and how multi-factor authentication can help solve them.
What are the main Identity Security Risks to Organizations?
Passwords and account credentials have never been more important for the security of businesses. Whether you use Hubspot, Hotjar, Slack, Office 365, chances are you have multiple cloud based accounts that have access to a whole host of important data concerning yourself, your employees and your customers. All of this data can be accessed from one email address and password.
The issue is, passwords are more often than not, pretty unsecure. Research from LastPass has found that 59% of people use the same password for multiple accounts. 47% of people use the same passwords at work as they do at home. This is a big security issue. Nobody likes having long, complex passwords with capital letters and numbers and special characters, but the fact remains that without other verification methods, the security of your account is based almost entirely around the security of your password.
However, even if you do use multiple, complex different passwords, unique to all your accounts, they’re still not secure. Successful phishing attacks can give attackers access to your account passwords by duping employees into logging into fake versions of a website. Attackers are also leveraging tools such as keylogging and password cracking to exploit weaknesses and get around even the strongest password choices.
This puts all of your business, employee and customer data at risk. Even using two-step verification does not totally secure a weak password, as hackers have begun innovative approaches to circumvent this security measurement. For example, hackers can create tools to fake SMS messages, or send phishing emails, which confirms their access to an account.
Multi-Factor Authentication solutions aim to mitigate risks that come from poor identity and access management.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-Factor Authentication is a security system that ensures all of your business accounts require more than one level of authentication before they can be accessed. It was developed to add extra security steps to the login process, to keep your accounts safe. It means that users are properly verified before they can gain access to accounts.
MFA uses multiple different categories of validation to verify users’ identity, more than the two commonly used for most accounts. It allows users to verify their identity with:
1. Something they know: This is the most basic security level and should commonly be a password. Many MFA solutions are integrated with Business Password Managers, which allow users to easily stay on top of all their different account passwords.
2. Something they have: This is a ‘possession’ layer of security, so requires something that the user owns. This is normally a text message sent to a user device, or some other push notification.
3. Something they are: The final level is a layer of security that only the correct user can provide. This is normally biometric controls, such as using a fingerprint or facial recognition.
On their own, anyone one of these three steps can be bypassed by a hacker. However together each are greater than the sum of their parts. It goes beyond 2-step authentication, and covers for the fact that there is no perfect authentication method. The best way to improve identity management is to use multiple methods in sync in order to cover the gaps in password security.
The Key Benefits of MFA
Multi-Factor authentication can improve the security of your organization. As discussed, it combines multiple authentication methods. It allows users to implement traditional 2FA, biometrics and adaptive authentication to make business apps even more secure. Using multiple authentication methods means that if attackers manage to brute-force a password, or use social engineering to attempt to gain access to account credentials, there are still multiple other levels of security in place to stop them accessing accounts.
Having Multi-Factor Authentication in place helps end users, as it allows them to more easily take care of their multiple accounts and passwords. This may seem contradictory, as you’d think adding more steps into the login process would make things more complicated for end users, as there would ultimately be more steps to getting into an account.
However, MFA means that you can implement easier ways to access accounts, such as Single Sign-On. For example, if a user logs into Office 365 using MFA, they will be able to log in instantly to all other accounts using those credentials, as their identity will have already been verified.
A good MFA solution will also be very easy for end users to use, just requiring a quick SMS code or a tap of a fingerprint scanner. It ensures the privacy of their data, and should require very little time and effort.
Makes Life Easier for IT Departments
Alongside streamlining the login process for users, MFA also saves time for IT admins. It should offer admins a much easier way to police users login credentials to ensure that everyone is secure, without having to worry about sending out reminders about passwords.
Admins get access to contextual controls, that can limit login access based on user location or time, which can flag up when a request to login is not valid. Good MFA solutions are highly scalable, and it’s easy to add new users as your business grows. They should also easily integrate with your existing applications, so that admins can easily set policies over which type of accounts need MFA to access. These policies should be able to control access across the organization, at the group and individual user level.
A good MFA solution will also provide greater visibility with reporting. Admins should be able to see when users are logging into accounts, the security of passwords and credentials, and be able to check that users have MFA in place on all the accounts they need to. This can help admins to ensure they have comprehensive security in place, and help them identity breaches much faster.
The final benefit of having a MFA solution in place is ensuring legal compliance. MFA is an important step in making sure you have strong data protection mechanisms in place, as per legal requirements. Making sure accounts and passwords are secure is crucial to protecting the data of your employees and users, especially if it concerns personal information or financial details. For example, if you use a CRM system to keep track of customer data and purchases, you will be likely be required to have strong protections in place.
Many data regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA may not specifically require businesses to have MFA solutions in place, but do require strong authentication processes before employees can gain access to data. For most businesses MFA tools are a good way to cover this basis.
However, you should always go beyond a ‘check-box’ approach to security and make sure that you use a high quality MFA solution, with the goal of comprehensive data security in mind rather than simply compliance.
There are a number of risks associated with identity facing businesses. Employees using weak passwords, or the same passwords for multiple accounts, can leave organizations wide open to breaches. MFA can help organizations to deal with these issues. They make life easier for employees, allowing them to more easily manage their different accounts securely. They give admins greater visibility and control over identity management. They also help organizations achieve legal compliance with data regulations.
To help find the right MFA solution, you can read verified reviews of all of the top MFA products, written by customers themselves, at Expert Insights. Discover what customers themselves have to say about the products, as well as their top features and benefits.