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The importance of Multi-Factor Authentication

The need for multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Stolen credentials are more than 15 billion as per estimates based on the number of breaches that occurred in the past. Cybercriminals have plenty to choose from, and if, by chance, you happen to be the victim, your credit card details, bank accounts, company secrets, and health care records, to name a few, can be taken over and misused, thus causing monetary damage.

MFA is essential nowadays as this will make stealing credentials harder and, in many cases, secure proof from cybercriminals. If one’s data is average, it will not be that attractive to the hackers who will look for other vulnerabilities or choose other lucrative targets. 

MFA, as the name implies, combines two or more factors. One is the standard username and password which a user knows. The other is something that only the user has.

  • Something users have like a mobile device, USB, key card to verify the identity. 
  • A user is like facial recognition, fingerprints, iris scan, or any other biometric to prove that the person is who he represents.

The secondary factor helps protect privacy, making it difficult for attackers to enter the system. 

Is password enough for security? 

The password allows the user to log in to the commuter systems, databases, email, bank accounts, etc. Users are prompted periodically to change the password. It is to stay safe and even have complex alphanumeric and special characters combinations. The truth, however, is that passwords are vulnerable and cannot provide fool proof security. For example, if one considers Google, that single password gives access to social media, emails, calendars, and other web apps. If the password is compromised, an exponential amount of data could get leaked. 

Hackers have stolen 26 million login credentials between 2018 and 2020. The numbers keep growing despite more security measures undertaken by companies. Each incident is known to be highly damaging to the victim. The costs per incident are also incredibly high. 

Data breaches are getting more innovative day by day. Hacking earlier meant breaking into bank accounts or credit cards and monetary loss to the victim. However, the healthcare sector is now on the radar of cyber-attackers. Hackers enter the system by planting malware and gaining access to the data. Once inside the system, they change the medical records and bills to fraudulent companies. It has turned out to be extremely dangerous not only for the healthcare service provided but also for the patient. 

Organizations recognize the risk and take proactive measures to beef up cybersecurity solutions. As per the statistics, more than 55 percent of businesses use the MFA solutions for cyber security. 

MFA working process 

Most multi-factor authentications will continue to use username and password combinations. However, they are adding an extra layer of verification by using another method so that bonfire users are allowed in the systems and thieves are stopped. 

An MFA process is like 

  • Registration: The user links an item such as mobile or Key fob to the system and confirms that the item belongs to the user. 
  • Login: User enters username and password into a secure system. 
  • Verification: Systems confirm the user by sending a code to the registered item, such as the mobile phone. If the item matches the one registered, it pings with verification codes.
  • Reaction: The user completes the process with the verified item by entering the verification code received.

For each login, the systems ask for verification. However, the systems remember the devices in some cases. If one uses the same mobile device or computer to log in, one may not verify each visit. But if a user attempts to log in from a new device or at an unusual time, verification is required.

Multi-factor authentications look simple but they are effective. According to Microsoft, MFA blocks nearly 100 % of the account hack attempts. A single tiny step can hugely protect security.

What are the Benefits of MFA? 

Many organizations have adopted multi-factor authentications considering the threat landscape in cyber security. Compliance standards like NIST and GDPR    require sophisticated security policies. 

MFA’s Usage is continuing to grow and becoming more widespread. The ease of use and protection benefit IT teams and employees alike.

There are several reasons for MFA’s indispensability in today’s corporate world.

  • MFA makes  authentication stronger Multi-factor authentication is growing exponentially, helping in risk reduction for organizations. Credential harvesting has become a constant threat. Statistics confirm that weak passwords or stolen credentials cause 80 percent of data breaches.
  • MFA ensures that access is granted based on multiple factors. In the process, it reduces the risk of compromised pastors. It adds another protective layer that protects from all kinds of damaging attacks known to cost a million to business enterprises.
  • Weak passwords that cause security breaches result in dire consequences for both the customer and the company.

Adaptability of MFA    

The adaptive MFA results from users accessing the system from diverse locations and devices. In the current scenario, companies require advanced MFA solutions to manage complex access requests and those not secure devices. 

While MFA allows more than one layer of protection, the adaptive MFA assesses the risks a user presents whenever the user makes the result for accessing the system or data from devices and locations which the IT system looks at needs. 

An employee, for example, logs into the company system from company premises, which means that it is a trusted location. Therefore, no additional security factors will be asked for. However, if an employee logs in from a coffee shop or uses a personal mobile phone to connect to an unsecured WIFI network or check work emails, in such cases the user will be prompted to verify an additional authentication factor. Why? As in this case, the user is utilizing an untrusted location, device, or connection.

Passwords are difficult to remember, and users compromise by using short or simple passwords. MFA secures the work environment, the people in it, and the devices the employees are using without requiring resets or complicated policies.

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