Without multi-factor authentication, you could be setting your company up for potential liability
If your business provides products or services to customers who provide you sensitive data – which qualifies most companies – online security should always be top of mind. Additionally, if your customers access sensitive data that is housed online, you need to understand the specific risks associated with this access. Neglecting this responsibility can result in stiff penalties, lawsuits, and loss of reputation if you weren’t doing enough to prevent a breach.
One of the most powerful ways that organizations are attempting to fight back against cyber threats is through multi-factor authentication. Below, we’ll define this term and also explain how using it can protect data from threats like hacking, malware, phishing, and other scams.
What is multi-factor authentication?
Multi-factor authentication, which is sometimes just referred to as MFA, is a mechanism of access control requiring at least two methods of authentication. If either method is deemed incorrect, access is denied. Security experts will typically categorize these different authentication methods in the following ways:
- Possession(some type of identification that an individual has);
- Knowledge(a piece of information that an individual knows to be true);
- And Inference(something that uniquely identifies an individual).
Two-factor authentication is the most common form of multi-factor authentication, though it can expand to additional steps.
How multi-factor authentication can help protect sensitive data
With roughly 75% of Americans already falling victim to online crimes due to account hacking, it’s critical that organizations do more to protect sensitive data. A simple password that’s used for all of an individual’s online accounts is incredibly insecure; if someone gains access to this one password, all of the information across all types of providers is compromised.
Multi-factor authentication helps to prevent this type of catastrophe by forcing individuals to use more than one method to gain access to sensitive data. Even with an unsecure password, MFA provides an additional layer of security – whether it’s a personal identification number or text to a smartphone – that’s hopefully enough to ward off a cyber-attack.
How mobile phones assist with two-factor authentication
In the past, most examples of two-factor authentication revolved around having a physical token (such as a bank card or an employee badge) on their person at all times. The only problem with this approach is that if this token is ever lost or stolen, the individual no longer had access.
Mobile phones have allowed companies to utilize two-factor authentication in ingenious ways. Mobile two-factor authentication typically uses some type of code or alert that’s sent via email or SMS to a mobile device to help prove an individual is who they say they are. The user must then enter this special code plus a password to gain access to sensitive information.
While mobile two-factor authentication is more convenient and secure than many other methods, it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Many security experts are not comfortable with using SMS messages to transmit these unique codes because these messages could be intercepted or spoofed. The future of MFA is looking to integrate a biometric component to the process, enabling a user’s unique physical characteristic to serve as a (likely) unbreakable “possession” component.
Multi-factor authentication is an essential security step
Multi-factor authentication isn’t perfect (yet), but it is much more secure than a simple password. That said, it is only one component of a comprehensive data security strategy; hackers are constantly changing their tactics, which means that security personnel must do the same. If you’re not currently utilizing multi-factor authentication as a part of a broader cybersecurity strategy, it may be time to schedule a security assessment with the team at CyberGuard360.
We’re well versed in all the latest MFA methods, as well as new technologies, policies, and infrastructure that can further protect your data. To learn more about our services, give us a call today at 844-315-9882 or get in touch through our online contact form.