Cybersecurity priorities for the rest of 2021 and 2022, according to IT admins, seem to be adding layered security that’s going to facilitate remote work. Many employers still have employees working remotely either all the time or perhaps on a hybrid schedule. Now they have time to think more in-depth about the challenges of remote work and how to solve those.
One thing that’s important not only for businesses with remote employees but organizations that value cybersecurity (which should be all of them) is called multifactor authentication.
The following are things to know about MFA, particularly from a business standpoint. Have a loot at all of them below:
What Is Multifactor Authentication?
Multifactor authentication or MFA is a type of security technology. It requires different authentication methods from various credential categories to verify the identity of a user when they log in or complete certain transactions.
The underlying premise of multifactor authentication is that it combines two or more credentials separate from one another.
The user knows something, which is usually their password, and then there’s something the user has. For example, it might include a code sent to another device.
The objective is layered security defense that makes it harder for cybercriminals to access whatever their target might be. Even if they can obtain a password, for example, they still have at least one other barrier in their way.
Multifactor authentication is pivotal to identity and access management or IAM.
What Are the Pros and Cons of MFA?
While there are a lot of upsides that come with MFA, there are downsides to be aware of too.
First, the pros include:
- MFA integrates added layers of security
- MFA can reduce security breaches by up to 99.9% over just the use of passwords
- Users can easily set it up
- It allows businesses to restrict access based on location and time of day
- The costs are scalable and manageable
- It’s something that can be attainable and affordable even for small businesses
The downsides include:
- Your employees may need something like a phone to receive a text code
- If you use hardware tokens, they can be stolen or lost
- Devices like phones can be lost or stolen
- The verification process can fail in the event of a network outage or an internet outage
- MFA strategies have to be frequently upgraded and updated
The Importance of MFA
When your business and employees are relying only on password and user ID logins, then it can end up costing you millions of dollars if just one is compromised. Passwords are easily compromised, and brute-force attacks can occur when a cybercriminal uses a password cracking tool to get the right combination.
Methods of MFA
The term authentication factor refers to a type of identity verification credential.
Each additional factor with MFA is meant to increase the assurance that the requesting individual is who they say they are.
There are three categories of authentication factors.
There is the knowledge factor, the possession factor, and the inherence factor. MFA combines two or more from these categories.
Knowledge-based authentication is when you have to answer a personal security question.
This might mean a PIN or a one-time password is used.
Another example might be providing your mother’s maiden name for system access.
The possession factor means that to gain access you have to have something particular in your possession to log in. This might be a badge, token or key fob.
A security token is a small device that stores personal information and verifies identity electronically. There are also software-based security tokens that will generate a PIN that’s used just once.
An inherence factor is based on biometric verification.
This means that a biological trait such as a fingerprint, facial recognition, or retina scan can be used.
For smaller businesses, the goal is to implement MFA and simplify techniques and keep them within budget.
There are different ways they can do this. For example, there is something called adaptive MFA, which is increasingly being rolled out. With adaptive MFA, business rules or policies are applied to user-based factors like a location or device. A corporate VPN, as an example, might realize it’s okay for a user to sign on at home because it can see the location of the user and determine the risk of a threat.
There’s also a single-sign-on. This is an authentication method where your employees would have one account that would automatically log them onto multiple applications with a single ID and one password. It establishes user identity and then shares the information with all the applications or systems that need it.