Is Multi-Factor Authentication a must-have?

You must have heard the story of the salary diversion fraud which left Jacqueline stranded. If you haven’t, you can read about it here.

The big question remains, what could Jacqueline’s organization have done to prevent such fraud?

What happened to Jacqueline was a result of a simple yet extremely common mistake we all make. If Jacqueline’s organization had mandated the use of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), the fraud would never have happened.

Multi-factor authentication protects your confidential information by enforcing an additional layer of security to validate your identity before granting access. The main advantage of MFA is that it makes it harder for bad actors to gain unauthorized access to systems and tools. To put things in context, if your password is compromised, an attacker would not be able to access your confidential information without providing additional factors of authentication.

What are Authentication Factors?

There are three types of factors that can be combined to achieve multi-factor authentication.

1. Something you know (Knowledge): Examples are Passwords, PINs, and even secret questions.

2. Something you have (Possession): This includes physical objects, such as a Key, Token, Phone or Smart card.

3. Something you are (Inherence): Examples are Fingerprints, Facial recognition, Retina scan, voice recognition and Behavioral Analysis (Location or Device attributes).

Using two (popularly called 2FA) or more factors together will help you defend against cyberattacks like the one initiated by Hacker Jake.

Today, most cloud-based applications (Salesforce, Facebook, and Paychex) offer MFA. Some even require it, whereas others make it an optional feature. MFA is undeniably the way of the future as a single factor can be easily compromised. The security MFA extends to individuals and organizations surpasses the inconvenience that comes with it.

What applications require MFA?

Any application that stores sensitive data requires MFA. There are three major types of confidential data.

1. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. Examples include Driver’s License Number, National Identification Number, Passport Number, Biometric records, Email addresses and Birth date.

2. Payment Card Industry (PCI)

This data includes cardholder data such as the Primary account number, Cardholder’s name, Expiration date and Security code (CVV).

3. Personal Health Information(PHI)

PHI refers to any information in a medical record that can be used to identify an individual, and that was created, used, or disclosed in the course of providing a health care service, such as a diagnosis or treatment. Examples include MRI scans, Blood test results, Billing records, Appointment scheduling notes and phone records.

Any application that stores any of PII, PCI or PHI should have MFA enabled. Such applications include your work tools, banking, health insurance, and social media applications.

Benefits of Multifactor Authentication

1. Minimizes identity theft and fraud

The primary objective of multi-factor authentication is to reduce the risk of account takeovers and provide additional security for users and their accounts.

2. Safeguards confidential information

A  recent Ping Identity survey revealed that security and IT professionals consider multi-factor authentication to be the most effective security control to have in place for protecting on-premises and public cloud data.

3. Enables enterprise mobility

Using MFA to log into business applications, provides the flexibility and 24/7 access employees need while keeping networks and data protected.

Trusted MFA vendors

1. Microsoft

2. Google

3. Authy

4. Duo

5. LastPass

MFA is definitely a must-have, whether as an individual or as a business. Do not wait to be victimized. Install your MFA app today!

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