Traditional passwords are cracked too easily nowadays. Hackers have tried a lot of different measures to steal the credentials and gain unauthorized access to private accounts by spear-phishing and pharming as well. According to Microsoft engineers in March 2020, there could have been a blockage by a multi-factor authentication solution (MFA) for 99.9% of the account compromise incidents they handle.
What is Multi-factor Authentication Solution (MFA)
A multi-factor authentication is a form of electronic authentication method that needs the user to offer two or more identity forms before they are allowed to access a network, application, or website.
There are 3 main types of MFA. The first includes passwords, secret data, and PINs. The second is more of a physical or materialistic object like a key or a smart card. The last one is biometric verification. This could include a retina scan, voice recognition, or even a fingerprint.
2FA or two-factor authentication utilizes two of these methods to verify the user’s access while multi-factor authentication utilizes two or more than that of these verifications. This is why MFA is a much stronger and secure solution than 2FA.
MFA is highly Unobtrusive and Safe
The progress of adaptive MFA solutions means that MFA is highly unobtrusive to the user. Adaptive MFA, based on the context of the login attempt, lets the admins adapt to the level of security. This solution reads the user’s geographic location and login pattern so that MFA can be utilized by users only when it thinks that the login is suspicious. For instance, you won’t be prompted to log in with MFA if you were to log into your corporate email account under business hours on a Monday from the head office of your organization. However, the solution will immediately ask you to provide proof of your identity if you log in on a weekend from a different country while on a holiday.
Now that you know what and how an MFA works, why does your business need multi-factor authentication?
1. Protect against identity theft by stealing passwords
Password theft is rising. The three main ways that attackers use to steal passwords are: one which secretly involves recording the keys struck on a keyboard called keylogging.
The second one is falsely asking the victim for confidential information known as phishing through an email, phone call, or an SMS.
The third one involves downloading a malicious code in a device that redirects the user to a fake website where they are supposed to type in the confidential information known as pharming. Sometimes referred to as “phishing without the lure”, Pharming involves the lure being the imposter’s malicious email.
No one is safe from these kinds of attacks whether it is large enterprises that we trust will keep our sensitive information safe or small businesses that are just ahead in the learning curve. Recently this year, according to experts at Cybele, a hacker was caught selling stolen login credentials on the Dark Web. However, it is not just Zoom’s high-profiled victims that are targeted to these kinds of attacks, it is quite common for web-based services that serve customers to have analogous experiences.
Even if some other company has experienced credential theft that has resulted in the leakage of their company’s employees’ passwords, MFA makes sure that your organization remains secure.
2. Alleviate the use of unsecured devices
Due to pandemic, this year there has been a significant rise in people utilizing their devices and using less secure internet connections to access their organization’s networks. A router that is compromised can allow a hacker to download password-stealing malware on a user’s machine. This is not possible on corporate-machines as they are protected by powerful and secure layers unlike in personal devices. Until the hacker reaches the organization’s network and it is too late, these attacks often go undetected.
Organizations while using MFA do not need to worry about things like the security of remote employees’ WiFi connections and personal devices.
3. Secure against weak passwords
Even after relentless reminders of the importance of password security, we keep on creating notoriously weak passwords. According to recent studies from NordPass and OWASP. “123456”, “qwerty”, and “password” are still the most popularly common passwords used around the world.
According to a report from the Ponemon Institute, 50% of IT professionals just reuse their passwords across multiple various workplace accounts. Something it’s even more devastatingly shocking. As per Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations report, in one-third of all the malware breaches, password dumpers malware, which steals credentials from the victim’s computer, were the culprit. However, organizations shouldn’t just worry about malware, the same report indicated that hacking breaches also involved password in some way or the other by utilizing stolen credentials or forced attacks.
Fortunately, MFA put a cap on all of that. This is because hackers can’t get past multiple verification processes even if they steal your password in some way or the other. A little social media stalking reveals a person’s birthday however, it is much difficult to scan their retinas without them noticing.
4. Enable other security measures
When it comes to protecting business systems, anti-virus software and advanced firewalls do an amazing job. An attacker, if gets his hands on your credentials that he stole, he can bypass all the various security measures that are supposed to make such an attack redundant.
Why should you bother to pull a deadbolt across your front door if the back of your house entrance is left open? In such a way the attacker can infiltrate your home, disable the firewalls and anti-virus software and cause much destruction to your company without your organization even noticing. Bad actors are rejected by MFA from gaining access to a network through a stolen password and lets other security tools to work normally. MFA can additionally alert you of the unauthorized attempts at access.
Multi-factor authentication techniques are quite inexpensive compared to other security measures and easy to implement. It offers effective protection to enterprises and individuals alike. So better to implement it now without asking why you need MFA to be safe in this pandemic.
– Mamta Sharma