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Why multi-factor authentication matters for your business

By: Brad Jepsen, Senior IT Sales Engineer

A single lock on a home is not enough to protect loved ones and the valuables inside. That’s why we use deadbolts, security systems, cameras, and other layers of security as fail-safes.

That same principle applies to valuable data, personal information, and proprietary business information. If it’s worth securing with one lock, it should have other layers of protection too.

At Networks Plus, we recommend any computer system connected to the internet use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is exactly what it sounds like: a security measure that only grants access after two or more credentials are verified.

The best firewalls, antivirus software, and other security technology can’t protect you if a hacker has your password. That’s why multi-factor authentication is such a vital part of business security protocol.

Three types of multi-factor authentication

Implementing multi-factor authentication looks different between companies depending on the systems in place, user workflows, and other variables. Most multi-factor authentication is two-factor, which simply means two credentials are required to gain access.

Many software companies offer multi-factor authentication built into their program, it’s just a question of activating or customizing those controls. This includes most email services and social media platforms.

Other systems and software may need third-party protection from an app or security program to be fully secure.

Authentication generally falls within three categories:

  1. Knowledge: The user enters secret information such as a password, a pin, a combination, or a code word.
  2. Possession: The user possesses a device such as a mobile phone, key, smart badge, or security token (a portable device that can generate a unique pin from the originating server).
  3. Identity: The user is authenticated by fingerprint, retina, voice, or some other physical characteristic.

Combining security with efficiency

One of the most common reasons businesses don’t implement multi-factor authentication is the fear of bogging down efficiency in their processes. It’s an understandable assumption: does another step means additional time and lost productivity?

The authentication technology now available is designed to be convenient. It’s not a choice between keeping your data secure or keeping workflows moving. You can have both.

The marriage of efficiency and security comes with apps that are tied to your systems. Secure login can be as simple as a push notification directed to a mobile phone that allows the user to verify they are logging in with the tap of a finger.

For example, LastPass is a web extension that lets your team store and access encrypted passwords online. We’ve found it to be a useful and easy-to-use tool for many of our Networks Plus clients.

Another useful system is Duo Security, a multi-factor application that protects logins and helps verify the device security of users who are logging in from offsite.

These are just two options–there are countless more that are customizable based on your business needs and security preferences.

You don’t have to multi-factor alone

When evaluating multi-factor technology or any security measure, determine:

  • How much risk your company is willing to accept.
  • The cost to implement a workable solution and whether it fits your budget.

If you’re not sure where to start evaluating the risks your company could face, give Networks Plus a call. The cybersecurity experts on our team can help you figure out the level of protection you need and make sure it works for you.

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