Adopting Multi Factor Authentication

Rapid changes in technology and the equally rapid adaptation of hackers made security a top priority for businesses. Big data keeps getting bigger, and protocols used in the past to protect data handled by your company are no longer sufficient. One compromised login can lead to a devastating breach, and the signs of malicious activity may not be evident until it’s too late.

Better authentication practices can reduce the risk of credentials being stolen and accounts being hacked. If you’re currently using passwords or any other single-factor authentication method, switching to multi-factor authentication (MFA) may be the logical next step to boost data security.

Is MFA the Best Choice for Your Company?

Whether MFA is beneficial depends on the size of your business, the nature of the data you handle and the other security systems you have in place. Even small companies need to consider the potential for data compromise and implement the best possible protection. Thirty-one percent of cyberattacks are launched on business employing less than 250 people, so even if you don’t have a big budget, MFA infrastructure may be a worthwhile investment.

Your company should implement MFA if:

  • You handle, store or transmit health records, financial data or other personal information
  • Your customers interact with sensitive data in your system
  • You’re required to meet a variety of compliance standards
  • It’s been a long time since your last security upgrade
Although you also need to consider the affordability of the authentication factors necessary for successful use of MFA, it’s important to remember the high cost of data breaches and to think of any expenses associated with a security upgrade as an investment made to protect your business.

Upgrading Your Security Protocols

There may be barriers to overcome when replacing your current login methods with MFA. To know how to plan for the update, you need to select what types of factors to use. A factor is defined as:
  • Something a user knows, such as a PIN
  • Something a user has, such as a mobile device
  • Something a user is, such as a biometric marker
Employees should already be familiar with providing one or more of these factors to access information and devices in their everyday lives, so you shouldn’t encounter any problems with the basic usability of the system. However, hardware for accepting factors like biometrics can be expensive, and implementing a widespread change in security protocols takes time. The delivery method for your chosen factors may require additional software, and it’s likely you’ll need help from a third party to ensure proper setup.

Best Practices for Implementing MFA

The first step in putting MFA into action is to find a reputable partner. The third party providing the hardware and software tools at the core of any security protocol must be trustworthy and have its own strong security measures in place. Research what’s available from companies like:
  • Auth0
  • Okta
  • SafeNet
  • SecureAuth IdP
  • Symantec
Compare tools and features to see which vendor supports the authentication factors you want to use, and read documentation or request a demo to gain an understanding of how the process works. The vendor must also be in compliance with the appropriate regulations to maintain excellent security. This is a key consideration in the search for a provider, especially since failing to comply can result in hefty fines for your company.

Once you’ve chosen a vendor, focus on best practices for smooth MFA implementation:

  • Conduct a risk analysis to determine the areas with the greatest need
  • Start by using MFA for the highest-risk actions and applications
  • Ensure all potential access points are covered
  • Use a dynamic authentication system able to adapt and accept a variety of credentials
  • Keep the user experience in mind to ensure smooth workflows
  • Notify employees of the change, and conduct training if necessary
As part of the switch to MFA, you may wish to implement other common measures to make logging in easier while maintaining security. Single sign-on (SSO) is becoming more popular and allows employees to seamlessly perform actions and access applications without the need to provide login credentials repeatedly during a session, thus reducing bottlenecks and improving productivity.

Conduct periodic reviews of your MFA protocol as you continue to roll it out across all areas of your business. Tweaks will be necessary to improve usability, correct problems with workflow and maintain compliance.

If you determine it’s time to upgrade your authentication procedure to MFA, don’t wait to get the ball rolling. The longer your old security measures stay in place, the more time hackers have to infiltrate your system. Determine your needs, consider the necessary investment of time and money and create a dynamic system for better protection of all the data your company handles.