Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor Authentication

It happens all too often- suspicious emails get through company or network firewalls, and when employees click them, their computers and the network are suddenly vulnerable. Companies think they have taken the proper steps to secure their servers, but often become the subject of cyber fraud or attacks. The majority of these cases of cyber fraud or attack could have been prevented with multi-factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is a method for controlling computer access where users can only gain access after going through a series of steps to provide evidence of authentication. MFA is necessary in this day and age of cyber crime, where a single password will not protect your computer or network. In fact, passwords are the weakest link in your security system. Compromised passwords and other credentials are the leading cause of data breaches. That’s where MFA steps in.

Categories for evidence of authentication include factors of knowledge, possession, or inherence. Knowledge factors are the most common forms of MFA. Knowledge factors require the user to prove knowledge of some kind of secret, like a password or security question (such as “where were you born?”). Possession factors require you to have possession of something, like a smartphone or security token. Inherency factors are typically aspects of biometric information associated with the user, such as a fingerprint or voice recognition.

You have probably encountered multi-factor authentication before. When you withdraw money from an ATM, you must provide your ATM card, a factor of possession, as well your PIN, a factor of knowledge. Many online banking sites and other similar websites also require multi-factor authentication before granting access- you often must enter a password and then answer a security question, such as the name of your first pet or your mother’s maiden name.

Even though most of us are familiar with MFA, not enough companies are adopting the method into their network and computer security systems. When an employee accidentally clicks on that malicious email that made it through the firewall, cyber criminals can get their password and easily log into their account, accessing sensitive data or information. With MFA, this would not be the case.

By requiring multiple steps for authentication, MFA prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to data much better than a single password. This is why it’s extremely important for organizations to apply multi-factor authentication across every user and IT source rather than just specific apps or resources. There are multiple channels through which cyber criminals gain access to sensitive data, so make sure that your company’s information is fully protected.

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