The Benefits of Multifactor Authentication
The Benefits of Multifactor Authentication
As a rule, in cybersecurity, the more convenient a feature is, the more vulnerable it is to attacks. For example, logging into a device and saving your password may be easy, but that means that anyone with access to your device also has access to that application and password-protected data.
Multifactor authentication, or MFA, may be one of the most significant safety measures you can employ to prevent cyber attacks, but it does require a few extra steps for the user. In this article, we’re going to discuss why you should use these extra layers of security despite a minimal amount of inconvenience to the user.
What is Multifactor Authentication and How Does it Work?
Multifactor authentication requires two or more methods of identification to access a device, system, or application. One of the most familiar forms of multifactor authentication is text message authentication. Here’s how it works:
The user turns on multifactor authentication if it's not automatically required.
The user then inputs the phone number where they wish to receive the confirmation.
When the user enters the correct password, they are notified that a confirmation message will be sent to their registered phone number.
The user receives a code or an option to press a button to grant access.
Once they enter the code or provide access, they are now in the system.
If no secondary authorization is received, the system alerts the user and administrator that an unsuccessful attempt occurred.
Another version of this type of multifactor authorization uses an email address for verification.
How MFA Improves Security
One of the things we learned from the notorious LinkedIn hack of 2012 is that most people’s passwords are ridiculously simple. “123456,” “linkedin,” and “password” accounted for over a million user passwords. Some companies have responded by requiring more complex passwords that require the user to create longer passwords with capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, but these passwords may be accessed due to poor security on the part of the user.
It’s important to remember that in cybersecurity, your system is only as strong as the weakest link, and most people reuse passwords. That means their usernames and credentials for your system may be the same as the ones they use for their email, social media accounts, etc. That means that if one system is hacked, they all are.
Enter multifactor authentication (MFA). With a two-factor authentication app, if a password is hacked, there is still a check to prevent an unauthorized user from gaining access. It is also a way to detect attempted data breaches by hackers. If the user receives a verification text or email, they will know that someone is trying to gain access to their account. In some versions of MFA, the system will automatically generate a warning that someone attempted to gain access to the user account but did not pass the two-factor authentication check. The user is then prompted to change their password.
Risk of Not Using Multifactor Identification
Human beings continue to be the greatest security risk when it comes to cybersecurity, and cybercriminals have many techniques for accessing private information. One of the simplest forms of attack involves an innocuous-looking email that prompts the user to enter their login credentials to verify the account or as a security check. When they enter the information, it goes to the sender.
Phishing scams similar to this have been responsible for billions of dollars over the years. Multifactor authentication largely negates the phishing risk since the password alone is not sufficient to gain access. In fact, it could alert the user and the intended target of an attack.
A Note of Caution About Email Verification
One popular multifactor identification technique involves sending an email to verify access. Considering the fact that many people use the same passwords across multiple accounts — a terrible idea from a security standpoint, but it still happens — a hacker could potentially access the user’s email prior to attempting to gain access to other systems. When the second-factor authorization reaches the email, they are already there to intercept it.
Email verification is far better than no verification since not all users have the same password across multiple accounts, but sending the verification to a phone number or to a specific device is a safer option.
Frequently Asked Questions About Multifactor Authorization
Flagler tech is a managed IT support and security service provider (MSSP). Many of our clients have similar questions about multifactor authentication and password security. If you are worried that your client or employee accounts are vulnerable, contact us. We are ready to harden your systems against outside attacks.
Why Should I Inconvenience My End Users With multifactor Identification?
We recognize that many people consider fundamental security measures an inconvenience. However, they also recognize the need for account security: theirs and yours. By requiring multifactor authentication, you can help them avoid the much more unpleasant inconvenience of learning that their information has been compromised.
How Does Optional Multifactor Authorization Work?
You may be familiar with a toggle on some of your accounts asking you whether you want to turn on multifactor authentication. This is common with financial accounts, where the user is presumed to have an incentive for authenticating their data. While this is always an option for employee accounts, we don’t recommend it. Many employees will opt out of the authentication option to save time.
How Can I Set Up Multifactor Authorization to Protect My System?
While authentication is a standard feature in many applications and systems, it is still not universal. If you do not have a Multifactor Authentication login process for access to your system, talk to your IT department. Or, contact an MSSP like Flagler Tech to evaluate your system and add an authenticator as a security feature.
IT Support and Security Management for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Flagler Tech is a Florida-based managed security service provider. We can evaluate all of your business's security measures, develop a risk plan, and make modifications upon your approval. No business is completely invulnerable to cyberattacks, but we can ensure that your defenses are sufficiently hardened that cybercriminals will likely move on to other targets. Contact Flagler Tech today to speak to one of our security professionals about the benefits of multifactor authentication.