MFA: Can It Ensure Your Cybersecurity?
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
In 2021, 79% of organizations used multi-factor authentication (MFA) for their cybersecurity needs. Yet, MFA isn’t an effective standalone solution.
Instead, MFA should form part of an effective overall security strategy. Many businesses find it advantageous to work with vendors that offer bundles with other services and applications for convenience.
Table Of Contents
Verifying user identity is essential for effective security systems, and authentication may take various forms – passwords or security questions, biometric identification methods, etc.
Authentication is often the only way to gain entry to certain resources, like cloud apps or corporate VPNs. MFA should be utilized in these instances to protect corporate data against cyberattacks.
MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) is an authentication solution that makes it more difficult for hackers to break into information systems and steal passwords by taking into account multiple factors, particularly the device type and location of users.
Businesses often employ two-factor authentication to protect email and other internet-facing services, as it provides a strong defense against attempts from malicious actors to access passwords via phishing attacks or theft of passwords.
Access control can be managed through either an easy-to-use application or various tools embedded on different devices, using an OTP, push notifications, or hardware token for authentication purposes.
Adaptive MFA uses contextual information and business rules to determine which authentication factors should be applied to users at any given moment; for instance, when someone logs in from a coffee shop, they might need to enter an OTP, while an employee logging on from their home office wouldn’t.
Selecting an MFA solution with a good balance between convenience and security is essential to ensuring employees don’t needlessly engage in second-factor verification processes that reduce productivity, increase employee churn, and provide poor user experiences.
MFA solutions are becoming more readily available on the cloud, which can reduce implementation and administration costs while simplifying implementation and administration tasks. They tend to be simpler and more flexible than their on-premises counterparts, though their security may still be vulnerable to phishing attacks or malware that compromises authentication processes.
Access control is a security model used to restrict who gains entry to computers, networks, files, and other forms of information. It may involve physical or logical access control measures with various components like door locks, card or fob readers, biometric scanners, intercoms, and auditing systems designed to track who enters restricted areas and how.
An access control system begins with authentication or verifying the identity of users to ensure they’re entering the appropriate area. This may involve checking their username and password, personal identification number (PIN), token, or biometric data such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans to make this verification.
Protecting against phishing, social engineering, and brute force password attacks is paramount for protecting an organization from the potential dangers posed by phishing scams, social engineering exploits, and brute force password cracking techniques that utilize weak or stolen credentials to gain unauthorized entry to networks.
Multi-factor authentication solutions can protect against phishing and brute force attacks by requiring logins with two or three-factor authentication, making it more difficult to bypass. Furthermore, multi-factor authentication helps block bots as well as manual attempts at gaining unauthorized entry.
Many businesses employ single sign-on solutions that require unique passwords for each application, but this method may be insecure due to sharing username and password combinations across services. By adding an extra authentication factor such as MFA, such risks can be reduced while making accessing applications more straightforward for users.
Phishing attacks – in which users are tricked into providing their login details by means of fraudulent email – are another common tactic used by hackers, often leading to ransomware being installed or sensitive data being stolen – protecting organizations is equally as essential.
Businesses must invest in an independent MFA solution in Cybersecurity that can protect the entire environment, not just individual applications. This allows IT teams to focus their efforts on more strategically significant tasks while users remain protected against threats like phishing attacks.
When selecting a standalone MFA solution, look for one with multiple features, including passwordless and biometric authentication methods, to enhance user experience while decreasing security risks. Such solutions should also offer easy deployment across both on-premises and cloud resources with the flexibility to integrate SSO features and other user-friendly functions.
Reporting refers to the practice of documenting and communicating a cyber incident to all relevant parties, which often include affected customers and business partners as well as law enforcement authorities. Not only is reporting necessary after being targeted by cyber attackers, but it also helps businesses better understand current threat trends so that they can better mitigate future attacks.
The US government has several mandates in place to promote reporting of cyber attacks. One such law, the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act (CIRCIA), mandates critical infrastructure organizations report incidents within 72 hours after an event has taken place and also includes provisions that require companies to report incidents involving loss, theft, or physical damage of information assets that result in financial harm to them.
Michael Daniel, CEO of Cyber Threat Alliance – a non-profit that gathers and shares information about hacker tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) – stressed the importance of reporting for organizations as well as government authorities. Reporting allows authorities to collect forensics evidence for future investigations while informing law enforcement of potential security issues that they can address quickly in order to safeguard the public against future attacks.
Executives at many organizations have reported experiencing difficulty accessing insights they need from their current cyber risk-management tools. Unfortunately, such systems tend to be complex and incomprehensible to nontechnical readers, leaving executives without enough data to prioritize threats, implement effective controls, or optimize resource allocation.
Leading companies are developing cyber risk management information systems to provide decision-makers with the transparency and efficiency needed to increase corporate resilience. These systems may be implemented either as standalone MISs or integrated with legacy GRC systems; unlike traditional GRC systems, which cater exclusively to specific departments, these cyber risk MISs aim at helping executives understand how cyber risks impact the business and make informed decisions regarding mitigation, countermeasures, investment or mitigation options. Their reports serve as invaluable informational assets that can be shared with their board or senior leaders.
MFA is an essential security practice adopted by many companies to secure their data and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Yet, it can be challenging for an organization to effectively implement and administer an MFA solution.
MFA systems often require hardware tokens for authentication; however, some rely on software-based solutions instead, including one-time passwords (OTPs), authenticator apps, push notifications, and biometric identification, such as fingerprint recognition.
MFA solutions can be an invaluable part of an employee’s security plan, especially those who use public or unsecured networks to access company resources. Furthermore, these solutions help minimize risks from phishing attacks that could allow unauthorized access to company data.
Even with its many advantages, however, it is vitally important that businesses select an MFA solution that offers flexibility and usability for end users and can meet various authentication needs. For instance, businesses using mobile devices to access work files will require an MFA solution that offers various authentication modes – SMS OTPs, authentication apps, and push notifications are just some examples of such authentication modes that may be utilized.
Businesses should utilize MFA software with a central dashboard for overseeing policies and access settings; this will allow administrators to maximize response times and productivity.
Businesses should carefully consider whether their MFA solution can connect with an existing identity repository, such as a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory or Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB).
2021 is an essential year for businesses to adopt an MFA solution that seamlessly integrates with their business applications and services so users can go through authentication quickly. This will reduce user friction.
A good MFA system should offer various tokens, from security tokens and soft tokens, such as USB keys or keychains embedded with ID cards, to physical tokens like security tokens and soft tokens.
Some of the more widely used tokens include SMS OTPs, authenticator apps, and push notifications. These types of tokens are easy to remember and use without needing a password, making them ideal for remote workers or people without immediate access to devices or the Internet.
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