Targets such as physical locations, computing devices, networks or databases become more difficult for unauthorized people to access thanks to the layered defense multi-factor authentication provides. Even if one factor is compromised, at least one more barrier is still intact to prevent a breach. The security technology MFA deploys requires multiple methods of authentication from separate categories of credentials in an effort to verify a user’s identity for a login or various other transactions. One of the easiest and most simple ways to keep accounts protected is by adopting a multi-factor authentication solution. Regardless of your organization’s size this should be considered a key security initiative.
Two or more factors from three common categories are often what multi-factor authentication utilizes to achieve the layered protection.
- Knowledge Factor (something you know)
- This form of authentication usually requires the user to answer a personal security question. Knowledge factor technologies could include PIN numbers, passwords, and one-time passwords.
- Possession Factor (something you have)
- In this case, for a user to log in they must have something specific in their possession such as a badge, key fob, token, or SIM card.
- Inherence factor (something you are)
- Biological traits the user possesses must be confirmed for login. Biometric verification methods can include retina/iris scans, fingerprint scans, voice authentication, facial recognition and more.
If your company is considering or preparing for an multi-factor authentication (MFA) rollout there are six key points to keep in mind to ensure success.
1. Improve your security stance by securing logons
Since users must authenticate themselves prior to being given access to sensitive data an attack becomes much less likely. Additionally, false positive attack alerts are minimized so IT can be certain when a true threat persists and have a solution in place that takes action before damage occurs, not just when they intervene. With that being said, you should always be conscious of if the solution you have actually takes action to stop the attack or just alerts IT to threat potential.
2. Avoid frustrating your IT department with a multi-factor authentication deployment
MFA solutions are having trouble being widely adopted and will be quickly dismissed by IT departments if they prove to be time-consuming to set-up and manage. In fact, 62 percent of small to mid-sized organizations are not using MFA. A solution should be selected that works cohesively with your current IT infrastructure so there is no need to go to each workstation to deploy it and no complex or customized codes needed. Above all, the MFA solution you select should allow administrators to react rapidly to end-user issues and have the ability to scale with your company making it overall easy to manage.
3. User security and user productivity must be balanced with your MFA solution
If end-users are being impeded an organization is not likely to sanction MFA security controls. Productivity of employees and profitability of the business should not be hindered as part of the effort to aid and protect the organization as a whole. Circumstances and frequency of when MFA is required should be thought through so there is a good balance achieved along with user productivity. Prompting a user for MFA every single time can grow frustrating. Also, smartphone authenticator applications are great options since they are easy and intuitive for the user while still being highly secure. Contextual access factors that are transparent to the user can also be used to achieve confidence in offering more non-MFA circumstances.
4. Understand the importance of user education and empowerment when it comes to MFA
Studies show many users are okay with sacrificing their security for convenience and ignore the option of MFA when given the choice outside of work. Knowing this, organizations should make an effort to educate employees who can then act as an important line of additional defense. End-users themselves should be alerted when their own credential are compromised to help correct potential careless activity. Alerts should also be set up in an effort to make users take responsibility for their own trusted access and encourage them to assess any suspicious login activity.
5. The case for MFA spans beyond privileged users
When used to protect any account with access to critical data applications and systems, not just the most privileged of accounts, the real value of MFA is realized. For instance, the user account for the head of Sales may not seem “privileged”, however protecting it still becomes critical when you realize it contains access to your customer database.
6. Management commitment and buy-in is essential
Often times senior management fails to pay enough attention to IT security. Therefore, an effort must be made to remind management how IT security’s benefits reach further than just keeping your company safe. For instance, better security can help you build trust with supply chains and customers. It’s not uncommon for a deal to be won based on if you are able to demonstrate a strong security stance. Remaining competitive may hinge on strong security measures as well. Effective IT security solutions allow for more ease adopting new technologies and those without it risk falling behind more nimble competitors. IT security, such as MFA, should be viewed as an enabler of business solutions as opposed to an unwelcome cost.
Utilizing MFA is an excellent tool for protecting your end-users network access. The risk of a breach and non-compliance is heightened when poor login security is practiced. Unfortunately, MFA solutions are not being widely adopted due to misconceptions that they are complex, costly and time-consuming to manage. It is also misconceived that a company must be a certain size in order to reap the benefits of MFA. All companies should understand the benefits of MFA solutions are robust and it’s always best to be proactive when it comes to securing sensitive information. One breach could have devastating consequences that are tough to bounce back from.
ACP CreativIT is happy to help your organization successfully rollout a multi-factor authentication solution to keep your data secure. Contact us to talk to one of our experts today or visit our cyber security page here.