Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): What is it and why do you need it?

In a world where credential harvesting is a constant threat and over 80% of hacking-related breaches are caused by stolen or weak passwords, risk reduction is critical for all organizations. Over the past year, companies worldwide have overwhelmingly shifted to remote work. With employees now accessing company data and programs from multiple locations and devices, it is more important than ever that you consider your business’s cybersecurity. With hacking rife, passwords alone, or single-factor authentication, no longer provide adequate protection. This is where Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) comes in.

What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

MFA is quite simple — in fact, you probably already use it in some form. Also known as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), MFA provides an additional layer of security to the traditional password. It does this by requiring users to provide a second means of verifying their identity. This may take the form of a code generated by a hardware token, a one-time texted password (OTP), or a biometric identifier (like facial recognition or a fingerprint scanner). If you’ve been prompted with a push notification on your phone after trying to log into an application or website, or swiped your bank card and then entered your PIN, you’ve utilized MFA. The technology has become so popular that 70% of cloud services and nearly all financial institutions now require users to use MFA.

How can MFA prevent breaches?

When breaches happen at companies, it is often because a hacker has obtained an employee’s username and password. In cases where MFA is in place, the hacker will be required to provide an additional form of authentication after entering these stolen credentials. Not only will the hacker not have access to this information, but their log-in attempt will trigger an authentication alert sent to the account owner, warning them of the attempted breach. This added layer of security is important because it can prevent hackers from gaining access to your account if your credentials are stolen.

Why is MFA so important for businesses right now?

The threat of hacking has grown in recent years due to a number of factors. Advancements in password-cracking software and computing power have made it possible for cybercriminals to attempt a ‘brute-force attack’ – entering every possible number, letter, and character combination to gain access to valuable data and accounts. On top of this, the proliferating “Internet of Things” (IoT) has seen our lives infiltrated by more networked technology than ever before. Now, everything from your TV to your watch to your coffee maker can be connected to the internet, and is therefore a hackable access point. And, as already mentioned, 2020’s shift to remote work is further putting businesses at risk of cyber attacks. Cybercriminals are leveraging this particular side effect from the pandemic, with McAfee reporting a 605% increase in Covid-related threats so far this year.

Stealing user credentials and cracking passwords is an effective way for hackers to gain access to your system. If a hacker gains unauthorized access to your business’s accounts, they can compromise all of your sensitive information, including documentation, bank account and credit card numbers, email correspondence, and — perhaps worst of all — sensitive information about your clients. This is lucrative business for hackers, who may then sell your information to other criminals on the dark web.

Phishing, ransomware, and hacking is a billion-dollar industry, and data breaches happen more often than you might think. Fortunately, MFA is incredibly effective at mitigating this risk, and relatively cheap and easy to implement. According to Microsoft, applying MFA to their Microsoft 365 platform results in a 99.9% probability that your account will not be compromised — and it’s not just Microsoft recommending MFA. The FBI also insists on the use of MFA to ensure user account security and minimize the risk of cyberattacks. 

Umbrella makes implementing MFA easy

If you want to keep your business safe from hackers but lack the technical expertise needed to implement MFA, consider hiring a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) to handle it for you. At Umbrella, we can help you implement and enforce MFA at your organization, hassle-free. MFA does not have to be intrusive or inefficient, and we will work with you and your team to make it as seamless as possible. 

We are experts in Microsoft 365 security, and the importance of preventing data breaches means we require all of our clients to enable MFA on their Microsoft 365 accounts. We know that Microsoft 365 is about so much more than just Outlook, Word, and Excel. It is connected to your local network, your email, your data, and your employees’ lives. Ensuring Microsoft 365 security is just one way Umbrella will help you implement MFA best practices.

Are you ready to protect your business? Start getting proactive with your IT today by contacting Umbrella. Help starts with a zero-obligation conversation.

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Umbrella and IT Solutions Join Forces

We are pleased to announce a new partnership with IT Solutions Consulting, a managed services provider headquartered in Fort Washington, PA. IT Solutions has a robust reputation in the IT industry and is backed by 25+ years of experience. Together, we’ll continue to deliver top-tier service with our combined team of technology professionals under the IT Solutions name. Click here for more details.