Accepting the idea that modern technology makes our lives easier is always a struggle. Yes, it gives us the ability to work where, when and how we want—allowing access from virtually anywhere in the world. However, with the modern freedoms that technology affords us also comes the darker side of “anywhere, anytime” access: the need for tighter, more diligent security measures.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Due diligence and making life easier are in many ways in direct conflict with one another. And you would be right for thinking that. However, taking a hardened stance on cyber resiliency actually does make one’s life easier—in this case, it’s just easier than the more dire alternative of suffering through a data breach.
With all of the aforementioned freedoms associated with access, knowing that it’s actually you logging in to corporate infrastructure is always a good thing. And that brings me to the need for yet another layer of cybersecurity: multi-factor authentication (MFA). After all, when you get an email asking whether its really you signing in from a location somewhere near Moscow, your life ultimately just got easier than dealing with the alternative.
So why MFA? And what does it really do for you?
First and foremost, it’s about control of access. By using MFA, administrators within your organization can begin to understand the usage patterns and behaviors of their users. This can include how and when people log in and information on geo-location and the type of system accessing the network. For instance, if a user is logging in from the same network connection as they do every day, then all is well. However, if at anytime a user attempts to access your network from a location that is yet to be deemed “trusted,” then a one-time passcode will be required to authenticate and log in.
Aside from preventing or allowing access, there are also myriad things that MFA can stop. A perfect example is identity theft—the low hanging fruit of the cybercriminal underworld. Because of its low-risk, high-reward nature, identity left is a very real and looming threat to businesses of all types. Furthermore, it’s also the fastest-growing threat: stolen user credentials are used in more than 95% of all Web application attacks. And though there may be firewalls, antivirus protection, and more in place, without safeguarding user authentication, those defenses can be rendered useless.
Yet another benefit of MFA is mitigating the risk of password theft. As cybercriminals continue to leverage technologies to commit cybercrimes like phishing, pharming, and keylogging, the threat of password theft is continually on the rise.
The real issue here is that criminals do far more than just steal passwords and gain access to systems to steal data. They also maliciously destroy data, alter data for other criminal purposes, change systems and applications, and even use servers and infrastructure to further distribute malicious code, spam, and malware—and even propaganda if it serves their purpose.
The good news is that implementing and using MFA is easy—you might even say it’s already habitual. Outside of the corporate world, MFA is already prevalent on social media and video game platforms, movie and music sites, and more. This bodes well for IT folks, as their end users are not only familiar with it, they embrace it simply because of their familiarity with consumer-based applications that use it.
In all, there are a lot of layers that need to be put in place and steps that companies must now take to secure both their systems and their people. The good news is that the use of these layers still makes life easier; MFA is the perfect example of quick and easy—all while delivering peace of mind to the user and to IT professionals.