How IT Pros Can Better Leverage MFA for Improved Security

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Security is the top priority of many organizations. Despite the efforts of IT professionals to improve security, cyberattacks are rising. Every device, login and app creates an entryway into your business and they need better protection because cybercriminals can get around even the strongest of passwords. Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) provides a solution by adding authentication factors to the login process.

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Passwords were created for the security of an organization, but have become a liability when an individual needs to manage a large number of credentials. It has become a security issue as 59% of employees reuse the same password, while many more use easy-to-remember passwords. Even strict IT policies, like changing passwords frequently, don’t keep an account secure. When passwords alone are no longer able to provide enough security, it’s essential to pair them with authentication factors and additional technology.

Two-factor authentication provides additional security, but this authentication approach doesn’t totally secure the business when employees have different levels of access, behaviors, attributes and personal devices.

MFA provides an identity by adapting requirements and leveraging additional factors, thus significantly reducing the risk of attacks and providing a smoother experience of authentication.

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What is multi factor authentication (MFA)?

Multi factor authentication (MFA) mitigates security risks by adding more login proof points that will ensure access to the right user. It offers extra security to a business by providing more than one level of authentication before giving access to employees. It’s a modern authentication solution with all-in-one capabilities that improve employee adoption and are easy to deploy for IT pros.

How does MFA improve security?

MFA strengthens security by using multiple levels of authentication that prevent attackers from gaining access to accounts and credentials. It ensures privacy and ease-of-use for end users as they just need to tap their fingerprint or send a quick SMS code to verify their identity. MFA not only streamlines the login process for users, but it also saves the time and effort of the IT team. They can control and secure user login credentials in a much easier way and have greater visibility with reporting.

Why is MFA a better option for securing login credentials?

In order to implement a successful MFA solution, it’s important to address the needs of both users and IT professionals. Avoiding these factors can become a cause of dissatisfaction and reduced productivity.

For IT professionals, they need an out-of-the-box setup that can plug into the existing infrastructure. They need control at an individual and group level across the organization, and coverage of all use cases. It’s useful to have compatibility with enterprise password management, single sign-on and other IAM solutions. There are a variety of MFA methods, whether adaptive, biometric, or push notification, which will all promise better efficiency.

Additionally, employees will need an effortless login experience that requires little or no training. They want a secure setup that requires minimal steps with the assurance their biometric data is kept secure.

MFA provides security and fulfills the needs of both users and IT pros without sacrificing usability.

4 best practices for successful MFA implementation

For the successful adoption and implementation of MFA, it’s imperative to follow these four best practices:

1. Determine and understand your requirements

You need to determine and understand the requirements of your business, such as identifying the functionalities and processes of your organization, the way information is accessed, how consumers and employees authenticate into applications, and how employees work in their teams. With this in mind, it becomes easier to select and implement the right MFA solution for the organization. MFA should be deployed across all VPNs, server logins and end points, cloud and on-premise applications.

2. Assess and integrate key applications

An organization can better leverage MFA by assessing and integrating key applications to improve user experience and limit exposure when combined with single sign-on. To succeed with MFA, the same experience of authentication should protect more resources with consistency providing a better user experience at a lower cost.

3. Select the right distribution and authentication factors

It’s important to select distribution policies and authentication factors carefully according to the needs of the business. MFA has many options to choose from, including adaptive, biometric, push notifications, software tokens, hardware tokens, SMS text and voice codes. Therefore, a business should consider the factors and their distribution that fits their needs. To predict the integration with other applications and services for single sign-on, it’s critical to model and plan the distribution channels.

4. Secure and validate mobile devices

Organizations need to secure and validate mobile devices that are directly accessing data and systems. SMS text authentication depends on the mobile of the user, and some IT professionals are wary of this type of authentication since it can be easily compromised through hijacking of the carrier account, swapping of SIMs, or device theft. For mobile devices, consider using an alternative method supported by the device, such as biometrics or push notifications. It’s also worth considering additional security measures such as enabling remote recovery, setting password lock time, and enabling a fingerprint detection lock.

Final thoughts

Although there’s no magical weapon for defending against cyberattacks, incorporating MFA with a user-friendly and adaptive approach across the organization can provide stronger security against threats and improve ease-of-use.

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