MFA Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security solution requiring users to verify or validate their identity using several ways to access accounts. It’s intended to increase account security and prevent unauthorized account access. That’s why it goes above the minimum degree of protection that can be accomplished with just one factor, often a password.
MFA is getting more popular in the corporate world. According to Gartner’s 2020 authentication market guide, 60% of major and multinational corporations and 80% of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) will employ multifactor authentication (MFA) to safeguard their business accounts by 2023. This article looks at the things you need to know about MFA. (1)
Why MFA is important in security
The fundamental advantage of using MFA to secure your accounts is that it increases the security of your business. This happens by forcing users to identify themselves with more than just a username and password. While using a name and password is crucial in security, this level of security is vulnerable to penetration by hackers. These account credentials can also be stolen easily by third parties. (2)
When you enforce the usage of an MFA element such as a fingerprint, one-time passwords (OTPs) sent on email or phone or by answering security questions increases your organization’s security. There’s also increased trust in your company’s ability to protect itself against cyber attackers.
MFA in the context of cloud computing
MFA has grown more crucial with cloud computing. Businesses can no longer rely on a user being physically on the same network as a system as a security consideration when shifting systems to the cloud vendors. Therefore, further security measures are crucial to guarantee that people accessing the systems are not malicious actors.
MFA can guarantee that users are who they say they are by requesting extra identifying factors that are more difficult for hackers to duplicate or break using brute-force tactics because users can access these systems at any time and from any location. Cloud vendors must also ensure proper security of client data with MFA.
Methods used in multifactor authentication
The whole purpose of any authentication factor is verification of the identity of the person trying to access a particular account. Each new component in MFA is designed to strengthen the assurance that a party engaging in communication or requesting access to a system is a genuine user. Using various means of authentication might make it more difficult for a hacker to break in.
Authentication factors can be in terms of something you know, or otherwise called the knowledge factor. It could also be something you have — the possession factor. Or the inherence factor, which is something you are. These are the three most prevalent authentication factors. MFA works with a combination of two or more of these factors. Here’s how the three factors differ:
- Knowledge: In most cases, knowledge-based authentication necessitates the user answering a personal security question. Passwords, four-digit personal identification numbers (PINs) and one-time passwords are examples of knowledge factor technologies (OTPs).
- Possession: To log in, a user must have a specific item in their possession, such as a token or phone subscriber identity module (SIM) card. The same is commonly used with an OTP sent to a user’s device to supply the possession factor.
- Inherence: This involves identification verification through a biological characteristic that the user possesses confirmed for login. They include the following biometric verification: fingerprint scanning, eye (iris or retina) scans, voice and facial recognition, among others.
Benefits of multifactor authentication
Given the reality of today’s security landscape and the use of cloud vendors, using MFA has become a necessity. Compliance regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also demand advanced security procedures. However, considering its simplicity of use and its security, it offers excellent benefits to organizations of all scales. Here are some of these benefits:
The greatest and most obvious benefit of MFA is that it significantly improves an organization’s security. It makes it more difficult for hacking as an attacker has an extra hurdle to cross and access sensitive data and protected systems.
Using passwords alone can become an expensive error, especially since more people are now working remotely, making them vulnerable to serious cyberattacks like phishing. According to data by Microsoft, MFA is an essential be part of any organization’s cybersecurity toolset since it can successfully thwart 99.9% of automated password assaults. (3)
Preventing credential and device theft
Unfortunately, not every data breach involves a hooded cybercriminal inputting cryptic commands on his computer to bypass state-of-the-art intrusion detection systems remotely. It only takes someone glancing at a remote employee’s laptop and remembering their password for a business to lose vital data.
MFA prevents credential theft by assuring that a password alone is never sufficient to validate a login attempt. It can also successfully defend against device theft and all the troubles that come with it when paired with full-disk encryption.
Simple to implement
MFA is one of the least expensive cybersecurity solutions that you may deploy in your business to defend yourself against the plethora of threats you encounter daily. Implementing any method of MFA can be practically non-intrusive, with no downtime, as long as your existing company software supports it, which it almost likely does.
While this is not all there is to multifactor authentication, it paints a good picture of enhancing security to businesses and cloud vendors.
Secure your business with peace of mind
with Kaine Mathrick Tech
- “2020 Market Guide for User Authentication”, Source: https://www.onespan.com/resources/gartner-2020-market-guide-user-authentication
- “Nail The Basics Of Cybersecurity With Multifactor Authentication (MFA)”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/01/29/nail-the-basics-of-cybersecurity-with-multifactor-authentication-mfa/
- “One simple action you can take to prevent 99.9 per cent of attacks on your accounts”, Source: https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2019/08/20/one-simple-action-you-can-take-to-prevent-99-9-percent-of-account-attacks/