Despite tremendous advances in practically every aspect of computing, the humble password is still the most ubiquitous security tool out there. While companies experiment with facial recognition and fingerprint phone unlocking, it’s strings of numbers and letter that regular businesses rely on to keep their data safe.
However, as any seasoned IT professional will tell you, there are problems with passwords. For one, the strength of a password depends on the person who created it. Most people aren’t versed in the technicalities of generating robust passwords that can’t be hacked, and so they just pick the first thing that comes into their minds. Often what they come up with can easily be guessed by online actors with the smallest amount of information about them. Sometimes, when the password is something like “password123” hackers don’t require any data at all.
There’s another problem with passwords: they’re vulnerable to keylogging. A hacker can send an employee what looks like a legitimate email with an attachment. The attachment can contain a file which automatically installs itself on their computer and records everything that they type on their keyboard. All they have to do is scan the output and look for words or phrases that look like passwords, and they’ve compromised your security.
The problems with passwords are many, but there’s a technique that promises to get around many of them: multi-factor authentication.
What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication is a type of security solution where somebody trying to log onto an account must back up their claim that they are who they say they are with another device, even if they get the password right. You’ve probably experienced multi-factor authentication already. One of your online accounts might require you to type in a code sent to your mobile device after correctly entering your password, just to make sure it’s you.
Multi-factor authentication can take several forms. First, it can be something that you know, like a secondary password or the answer to a security question. Second, it can use something that you have, like a mobile phone or a landline connection. Third, it can be something specific to your body, like your fingerprint. So, for instance, two-factor authentication to get into a secure part of your workplace might involve both a password and fingerprint recognition.
What Are The Benefits Of Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication offers many benefits for businesses trying to implement better identity management solutions at their firms. Let’s take a look.
It’s no secret that businesses are right in the firing line when it comes being hacked. Every week, a new company declares that its user accounts have been compromised.
Multi-factor authentication offers a way to get around this. It targets the weakest link in the security chain and enhances it. Passwords and PINs can be copied, hacked or guessed, but it’s much more challenging to confirm that you are somebody that you are not when a second factor is involved.
Hackers need all of the relevant factors to hack a system. But when these are impossible to get, then a system cannot be effectively hacked, no matter how hard they try.
Governments take a dim view of companies that do not protect their data. When data are stolen, it is often the company that must explain itself, rather than the criminals. It’s a clear attempt by authorities to extract fines from peaceful businesses and a double insult that firms will want to avoid.
Insisting on two-factor authentication, whether for customers or colleagues, helps to reduce the likelihood that there will be any breach of personally identifiable data.
Take healthcare firms that must operate under HIPAA, for instance. Regulations state that they are duty-bound to prevent patient data from falling into third-party hands without patient consent. Clinics that practice multi-factor authentication enhance their case that they are working as hard as they can to prevent criminals from gaining access to data.
Companies, however, need to be careful. Not all multi-factor authentication methods are as robust. SMS-based authentication, for instance, can be easily intercepted, as can phone calls. Firms need to avoid “checkbox compliance” and think carefully about which security systems will make life the most difficult for criminals.
You Make It Easier For Employees To Access All Their Apps
Multi-factor authentication sounds like a hassle. But it turns out that the technology can make it easier to log into accounts than single-factor alternatives.
Why? It turns out that when a user confirms who they are, that information can then be used to provide permission for them to access multiple accounts. Imagine being able to log into a single application and then have access to all other apps without having to retype passwords; that’s the benefit that multi-factor authentication can bring.
It’s worth pointing out the benefits to productivity that this could have. When employees have to log in and out of applications endlessly, it can drain their motivation and slow down their work. But if they can sign in once and be done with it, their morale will improve, and you’ll get more productivity from them. It’s a win-win.
You Show That You Care About Cybersecurity
There may be cultural knock-on effects of using multi-factor authentication. Organizations that implement strict security policies may induce workers to think more carefully about cybersecurity in general, improving the overall robustness of your organization.
Cloud cybersecurity has long been a primary concern of companies. Firm worry that hackers can find ways to access cloud servers and gain critical information about customers and operations. Because of this, multi-factor implementation is expected to rise in business dramatically through to 2022. Experts expect a compounds growth rate of 15.2 percent, year on year.
So what have we learned? We’ve found out that multi-factor authentication is one of the most potent tools available for protecting company data. Multi-factor authentication improves overall cybersecurity while making life easier for colleagues. The rise of this type of security measure will continue well into the future, thanks to the impressive benefits that it can bring.