With each passing day, hackers and cyber criminals are improving their tactics and strategies, rendering single-factor authentication (SFA) no longer the safest method of securing your data and accounts. The most used SFA is a simple username and password form, which can nowadays be cracked very easily.
To add another layer of security, another method commonly being used in Australia and throughout the world currently is multi-factor authentication (MFA). By simply adding another layer of authentication, we’ve improved our clients’ cyber security tenfold.
In this article, we’ll dive into how MFA may be appropriate for your business and why you should consider using it.
Related reading: Cyber Security Sydney
The major advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it increases the overall security of your business by ensuring your staff prove their identity with more than just a username and a password. As this report suggests, in 2020 businesses in Australia experienced a whopping 40% more phishing attacks than the previous year and have been receiving fraudulent messages 15 times more during the pandemic.
Implementing the usage of multi-factor authentication elements such as a fingerprint or a physically made hardware key increases the likeliness your business has of overcoming attacks from cyber criminals. To paint a picture for you, think of an SFA like a car with a seatbelt but without airbags. MFAs are a car with seatbelts, airbags and a 5-star ancap safety rating. Easy switch and worth the investment right?
MFAs are particularly important given that cyber criminals can easily use tools to gain your team’s login credentials and therefore gain access to vulnerable data and resources. Simply by adding one more layer of authentication, hackers cracking tools and password sniffers can be rendered useless.
As you’ve probably got the gist of it by now, multi-factor authentication operates by requesting extra information for authorisation like one-time passwords. They are abbreviated as OTP and are the most prevalent MFA elements that users will be used to. OTPs are four to eight-digit credentials that you may get by email, SMS, or even through a specific mobile application.
When using OTPs, a new code is produced regularly or whenever a user requests a verification. The pattern of the code is constructed using a seed variable provided to the user when they make registration initially, as well as another element such as an adjunct counter or a time limit.
The majority of the MFA algorithms rely on 1 out of 3 forms of extra data that you need to fill out, such as what you know, what you own, and other personal things. This is sometimes known as personal authentication.
Finally, biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition can be used for extra-strong security as these are, evidently, very hard to counterfeit…before we bore you with the technical nitty-gritty of MFAs, let’s move onto the more pressing question our clients often ask us.
The answer to this will change depending on the exact needs of your business, but the baseline response to this question generally stays the same—MFAs should be used when digital resources are accessed from outside the physical walls of the office.
Think Emails, VPNs and accessing cloud storage from home. As for how often an employee should fill an MFA, that depends greatly on the sensitivity of the data you are needing to protect and will change on a case by case basis. We recommend some of our clients have their employees use an MFA once per day, and definitely every time a device is restarted.
Which brings us onto the next frequently asked question.
The most common reason why businesses refuse to adopt an MFA is that they feel it is a little cumbersome and complex. However, if remote and in-house businesses do not use a multi-factor authentication method, they increase the risks of data leaks and security breaches.
One Ponemon Institute study declared that, on average, the price businesses pay due to data breaches is $6 million. Smaller firms, while not suffering as severe attacks, do incur comparable monetary losses. It is also critical to acknowledge that multi-factor authentication is quickly going to be a big requirement to avoid costly repairing expenditures that could have been avoided.
Cyber security intervention programs do not compensate for those expenses. Furthermore, fixing your cyber security vulnerability does not compensate for the original deficit, for instance, if the sensitive data is breached or your technology has gone down for a lengthy period.
Another key reason is that remote workers are inherently more vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they might not actively work inside the network of the organisation anymore. Personnel might also utilise their gadgets to perform their tasks; thus, the company cannot have complete authority around the equipment they’re using. VPN’s are progressively being used by businesses to get remote access to the internet. They’re usually safe however, the end-to-end encryption the VPN employs can be rendered useless if an attacker already knows the credentials.
With cyber criminals getting more advanced year in year out, SFAs simply don’t cut it anymore. When dealing with valuable data and multiple remote teams, it’s imperative to add that extra layer of security to your business—MFAs do just that. If you are looking to make your business less vulnerable to cybercrime, Essential IT will be happy to provide a free IT assessment and implement MFAs into your business’s processes.
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