What is multi-factor authentication and why is it important?

What is multi-factor authentication? 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the use of multiple avenues to prove you are the person that should be accessing information.  As an example, in addition to a password or pin, you can also require answers to security questions. Additionally, you can use an authenticator app that uses facial or finger print recognition on your smart device.

Why do you need multi-factor authentication?

I know…this sounds like a lot.  If you can barely remember a single password, why in the world would you want to use all of those extra steps to access you accounts?  

The answer is simple.  Cybercriminals want access to your information.  They can use the data to make a profit by either exploiting you directly or by selling it to someone that is willing to use the information for ill intentions. An example of this would be identity theft.

A 2020 Verizon Data Breach Report cites that 45% of data breaches featured hacking.  Of the data breaches that involve hacking, 80% of them involve the use of lost or stolen credentials.

Credentials are everywhere.

Credentials are not only the things you put on a resume to land a dream job. They are also the user name and password you use for apps. As we move to cloud-based services, credential use is rising. We need credentials for everything from applications to email to online banking.  For many, it’s hard to keep up unique passwords for each app. The logical result is that we tend to use the same username/password combination for multiple log ins. If a cybercriminal has you log in to one apps, they likely have access to more than one. 

So they have my log in. What more do they want?

Hackers don’t normally stop with credentials. Once they get in to your app, they have access to personal information. Most applications gather basic information about the user: name, address, phone number etc.  It makes sense. This is useful information for the company to communicate with you. The trouble is that it’s also information that is necessary to get a credit card and more.  Because of this, if you are using the same username and password across multiple accounts you are putting yourself at risk. 

What can you do?

The 2020 Verizon Data Breach report also shows that attackers prefer short paths to data hacking. In fact, they rarely attempt long paths.  This means that the best solution for keeping your date secure is to use multi-factor authentication.  Increasing the number of actions necessary to get to your information significantly decreases the chance of a breach. 

Where do you start?

There are several options out there to help you manage MFA.  Microsoft and Google both have easy applications to access and use. 

As a business that is responsible for not only your information but information about your customers. It is a wise business rule to have everyone use MFA while at work.  Multi-factor authentication won’t remove the risk of a data breach. However, it will certainly minimize the risk of one. 

Need some help?

At IT Enabled, we help organizations across the country use technology to drive efficiency, enhance capabilities, minimize risk, and grow their business.

If you need help creating processes that utilize MFA, we’re happy to assist. Our business is keeping you focused on your business. Feel free to contact us and get us on your schedule. 

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