What is it?
Multi-Factor Authentication (or MFA for short), is a security method that allows you to log in to a service or system with more than just a password. As passwords tend to be weak in terms of security, Multi-factor Authentication greatly reduces your risk of a data breach. There are multiple options when it comes to MFA, with it coming in all shapes and sizes. Commonly found are things like SMS or email codes that are sent to you after you have entered your password (think internet banking). Another example would be unlocking your phone with your fingerprint or face. Highly secure alternatives come in the form of physical authentication devices like USB keys, and through special authenticator apps for your phone, that cycle through security codes at regular intervals. Usually, once you have passed at least a couple of these authentication methods, access will be granted.
What makes MFA so strong is that it compromises multiple parts, rather than relying solely on a password (hence the “multi-factor” part). It is based on something you have (physical access to a device like a phone); something you know (your password, hopefully!); something you are (biometrics like iris scans or your fingerprints). Using some or all these authentication options make it incredibly difficult for a cybercriminal to gain access to your accounts. Unless they have your password cracked AND have immediate access to your device(s) AND have your eyes/hands, it will be quite tricky for them to actually compromise your account. Because of this, MFA is the bane of cybercriminals. It should be noted however, it does not make you completely impervious to attack, but it certainly does make it that much bit harder.
But why do I need it?
This may all seem a tad over the top. You might have an incredibly complex password – with letters, numbers & symbols – but that still does not make it impenetrable. MFA provides a layered approach to protecting your accounts & services. As we have already mentioned, by adding these extra options, the difficulty in bypassing them is increased tenfold. The simplicity involved in utilising MFA greatly outweighs the worst-case scenario if you are the victim of a cyberattack and do not use MFA.
For your users’ sake, using MFA can be a reassurance that your company takes cybersecurity seriously. This will then also instil the same mentality across your team. Your hand may also be forced as MFA is becoming part of many standard frameworks. If you want to work with certain companies, they will require you to use MFA in some shape or form. If you are working from home, MFA is also incredibly useful as it makes user logins that much more secure. Regulatory compliance often calls for MFA, and to be honest, it is kind of a no brainer. MFA imposes little risk for fantastic security. It has been said before but it’s worth saying again: all it takes is one successful cyberattack against your business to have potentially game-changing consequences. Why take the risk when MFA is just a step away from turning your weak defence into Fort Knox?
How does it work?
MFA works by being deployed into your existing IT infrastructure. It verifies your users using unique codes that are incredibly difficult to crack as we have mentioned. Once they enter their password correctly, a secure message is sent to a remote server that confirms access and then sends out an MFA code. What’s great with MFA is that it can be used with more than just email systems. You can use it to log into PCs as well. This makes it an incredibly versatile tool that gives you plenty of flexibility in terms of how you take advantage of it. Many companies provide great MFA solutions, with Microsoft’s Azure AD working with many of them. This allows for seamless integration into your existing IT infrastructure with little disruption.
In conclusion it’s clear to see that MFA is a must for any business that is looking to increase security at their company in line with modern standards. Using solely passwords is no longer acceptable today. If you were to fall victim to a cyberattack, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of stating your claim that it wasn’t you fault. MFA is a great benefit to your business and that cannot be understated.
If you want to find out how we can help you setup MFA in your business contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01843 572 600.