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Why Multi-Factor Authentication is a Non-Negotiable in 2023

Over 55% of enterprises use MFA as an added layer of security, and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.

In today's digital age, security threats to data are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Passwords were once the go-to security measure for protecting sensitive information, and we all still use passwords to access our email accounts, work databases, and online bank accounts. However, relying on passwords alone for security is no longer enough to keep your sensitive information safe. For one, a majority of people create weak passwords that are relatively easy to crack. In 2022, the most common passwords were: password, 123456, 123456789, guest, and qwerty and almost 59% of people were found using their name or birthdate in their passwords.

Even if you have a complex password or use a password manager, determined cybercriminals can still find ways to bypass this single layer of protection – often through theft or leaks. According to Google, 43% of surveyed people have shared their passwords with someone. Over the last five years, there’s been a 30% increase in stolen credentials — making it one of the most “tried-and-true methods” to gain access to an organization. Last year alone, 43% of business email compromises involved the use of stolen credentials

This is where multifactor authentication (MFA) comes in. Over 55% of enterprises use MFA as an added layer of security, and this number is expected to rise in the coming years. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of MFA and why it's crucial for protecting your sensitive data and accounts. 

What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Also known as two-factor authentication or two-step verification, MFA is, at its core, a security process that requires users to provide more than one authentication factor to access a device or an account. Simply put, it means that in addition to a password, users need to provide at least one more form of authentication. Imagine you’re logging in to your email account. You’ve set a strong password that only you know. However, if someone manages to hack your password, they’ll have access to all your sensitive information, including your personal and professional contacts. 

But with MFA enabled, you’ll need to provide a second factor of authentication, such as a code sent to your mobile phone or a fingerprint scan, to access your email account. This additional factor of authentication makes it much harder for cybercriminals to hack into your account. If a hacker manages to steal your password, they still won’t be able to access your account, because they won’t have the second factor of authentication that’s unique to you. This extra layer of security ensures that your sensitive information remains safe even if your password is compromised. 

Types of Authentication

MFA requires two or more authentication factors to access a device or an account. These authentication factors are classified into three categories: 

  1. Something You Know: This factor is based on information that only the user knows. Examples include a password, a PIN, or answers to security questions. This factor is the most common type of authentication factor and has been in use for decades. However, it is also the weakest factor, as it can be stolen or guessed easily. 
  2. Something You Have: This factor is based on something that only the user possesses. Examples include a smart card, a security token, or a mobile phone. This factor is stronger than the first factor because the user needs to have the physical object with them to log in. However, it is not foolproof, as the object can be lost, stolen, or hacked. 
  3. Something You Are: This factor is based on something that is unique to the user, such as biometric data. Examples include fingerprints, iris scans, or facial recognition. This factor is the strongest of all, as it is nearly impossible to fake or steal. However, it requires specialized hardware or software to implement and can be more expensive than the other two factors. 

Some MFA systems combine two or more of these factors to create a more secure authentication process. For example, a system may require a user to enter a password (something they know) and insert a smart card (something they have) to log in. Another system may require a user to provide a fingerprint (something they are) and enter a PIN (something they know) to access an account.

Benefits of MFA

MFA has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the significant benefits it provides. Here are some of the benefits of implementing MFA, in addition to an increase in overall security posture:  

  1. Protection Against Phishing: MFA can also protect against phishing attacks, which are common tactics used by cybercriminals to steal passwords and other sensitive information. With MFA, even if you accidentally provide your password to a phishing website, the attacker will still need the additional factor to access your account.
  2. Customizable Solution: MFA allows enterprises to customize the user experience to meet their needs. Different authentication factors are available, and businesses can choose which factors to implement depending on their specific requirements. For example, a business may choose to use fingerprint scanners on smartphones as the second authentication factor, while another business may prefer to use facial recognition.
  3. Scalable with Single Sign On: MFA can be implemented for all users, including employees, customers, and partners. MFA is scalable and can easily adapt to the changing needs of the business. Plus, since MFA can be integrated with Single Sign On, users don’t need to remember multiple unique passwords. This prevents the critical risk of people reusing passwords for easy recall  – as one study by Google found that 65% of people reuse the same password for multiple accounts. 
  4. Regulatory Compliance: Many industries and government agencies are required to comply with regulations that mandate the use of MFA for certain types of data and systems. By implementing MFA, organizations can ensure they are meeting these requirements and avoiding costly penalties for non-compliance.
  5. Better Remote Network Security: MFA enables employees to securely access business applications using mobile devices. This is critical for network security in today's work environment, where remote work, hybrid work, and Bring Your Own Devices have become increasingly mainstream. 
  6. Adaptable For Different Requirements: Adaptive MFA uses contextual and behavioural data to assess risk – such as IP address and time since the last authentication This allows enterprises to apply different levels of security depending on the requirements.

Implementing MFA: Some Drawbacks to Keep in Mind

MFA is an essential and non-negotiable security measure for organizations. However, as with any technology, there are potential challenges and drawbacks that should be taken into consideration when implementing it. 

  1. One of the most common issues is its increased complexity and user inconvenience, which can make it challenging for some users to access their accounts and lead to unfavourable employee experiences. To address this, organizations must offer clear instructions and user-friendly interfaces to help users navigate the MFA process. 
  2. Another potential challenge is the cost associated with some MFA solutions. When choosing a solution, businesses must weigh the cost against the potential cost of a security breach or non-compliance. 
  3. MFA can sometimes lead to the risk of lockout, which can be frustrating for users. To mitigate this, organizations can offer a few alternative methods of authentication and provide clear instructions for users on how to regain access. 
  4. Compatibility issues can arise when using certain MFA solutions that may not be compatible with all devices or systems. To address this, organizations should carefully select MFA solutions that are compatible with a wide range of devices and systems.

Evren's OS: A Single Security Solution with Easy MFA

MFA is an essential security measure that prevents bad actors from accessing sensitive information, even if they manage to obtain employee credentials. It adds an extra layer of security that makes it more challenging for hackers to gain unauthorized access. With the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, MFA is no longer an optional security measure but a must-have for organizations of all sizes. 

While implementing MFA can be challenging, Evren offers a comprehensive security solution that makes it easy and effortless. As a highly secure, customizable operating system for enterprises, Evren provides multiple layers of security. MFA comes built into this package – with biometric authentication, token-based authentication, one-time passwords, and more. Since the OS is designed to reduce IT costs in post-deployment management and security, this means seamless, cost-effective MFA implementation without the hassle of purchasing an expensive standalone solution. Moreover, being purpose-built for modern enterprises, Evren is compatible with most standard industry devices, ensuring that implementation provides proper protection and that no hardware updates are necessary. The OS also offers centralized logging and auditing, which makes it easy to track user activity and identify potential security threats. Users can customize their security settings to fit their specific needs and administrators can easily manage MFA settings across the organization. 

By choosing Evren, organizations can ensure that their sensitive information is protected while providing a secure and user-friendly experience for their employees, all at an affordable cost.

To get a first-hand experience of how Evren implements MFA, get in touch with our experts and schedule a one-on-one consultation today.