Let's look at some numbers.
Estimates show that a cyberattack happens every 44 seconds throughout a day. That sure is a lot of times for one day.
All or most of these attacks aim for sensitive user login data. The most practiced attacks like phishing and other social engineering attacks trick the user into entering their credentials by faking their credibility. There is also hacking software that tracks data by monitoring keystrokes, and ones that try to guess passwords by entering all possible combinations.
For an organization with sensitive data and a lot of devices under its network, this can be a hard blow. Every employee is capable of human error. Hence, each one of them becomes a potential entry point for the attacker.
The impact of an attack can be tremendous for organizations regardless of their size. The average cost of cybercrimes for organizations is around $13 million. Not to mention the cost, time, and effort it takes to recover from an attack. Your business will lose the trust your customers have in you. In the end, it's not worth it.
So what can we do?
Of course we should stop using "password" as our password—we need to start using stronger passwords. But is it enough? Cyberattacks have evolved, so the authentication method used in our organizations should, too. This is where multi-factor authentication (MFA) come into play.
What is MFA and how does it work?
Multi-factor authentication—the name says it all. MFA is an authentication method that verifies your identity with more than one factor before you can gain access to your account.
Let's put this further into perspective using a comprehensible analogy: the ATM card. To withdraw cash at an ATM, you need a card and a security pin. Here, your identity is verified with both your card and the pin. Having only the card or only the pin is not enough; you need both factors for the transaction to proceed.
On an ideal day, when the user logs in using their credentials, they are also prompted to verify themselves using other factors. The factors can be a combination of one or more of these:
- Something you know (Knowledge factor)
- Something you have (Possession factor)
- Something you are (Inheritance factor)
Benefits of using MFA
Adopting MFA is a huge yet simple step towards making your organization cyberattack proof. There are several other ways MFA can benefit your business.
Provides stronger authentication for your work apps
Businesses are heavily dependent on apps. Studies show that enterprise employees use around 129 apps on average. Small and medium businesses do not lag behind; employees in SMEs use upwards of 70 applications.
Passwords are still used as their primary method of authentication. Though healthy password practices help, they are not secure enough. Eighty-one percent of hacking-related breaches used stolen passwords and/or weak passwords.
This is where MFA is highly effective as it prevents data breaches by adding additional protection to your passwords. Even if passwords are breached, the attacker will be unable to gain access. MFA also works well with SSO. Your employees get to access all of their work apps with a single credential without being prone to attacks.
Improves workforce mobility
The work model of companies is not as simple as before. It is a concoction of in-office work, remote work, and hybrid work. Employees are on the move. One day their workplace can be a cafe, the next day their home. It's constantly changing.
This evolved work model also means you have no control over from where your organization's data is accessed. Accessing apps from different locations and devices under different networks is a great door opener to cyberattacks.
MFA plays a good role in prevention during such instances. MFA utilizes a stringent authentication technique that is similar to a hurdle race. Even if the attacker manages to crack the login data, they'll still face other factors like an OTP, hardware key, or biometric that only the owner could have. No matter where your employees work, you'll still be protected.
Makes life easier for your IT admins
According to a recent SME study Q4 2022, security has been the biggest challenge for IT admins over the past year. IT admins are constantly stuck in this vicious cycle of having to enforce stronger password policies, which leads to forgotten passwords resulting in password resets. At some point, the employee chooses weaker passwords to prevent the whole process again.This is not healthy.
MFA simplifies and secures the process for your IT admins and your employees without the resets and strict policies. It provides various authentication factors to secure your accounts. Any good MFA application provides insights and reports on the intricate details like login details, session info, and prompts for any suspicious activity. In this way, your IT admins can focus on more important things. MFA is also scalable, adaptable, and can be easily integrated to any application for any number of employees.
Having MFA ensures legal compliance. All security and data regulating standards insist on keeping a stronger authentication in place. MFA is a great place to start.
MFA is one of the necessary security measures that has to be taken to safeguard your employees', users', and customers' sensitive data. In addition to making the whole authentication process secure and easy, MFA also complies with data regulatory norms like PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, NIST 800-63B, and the Essential Eight.
What is the difference between 2FA/MFA?
Both 2FA and MFA are acronyms that look puzzling, but they're not as complicated as they seem. In the cybersecurity sphere, both of these acronyms are used interchangeably with only minor differences.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, requires users to authenticate themselves exactly with two factors. For example, you'll need a password and a TOTP while using 2FA to gain access to your account.
MFA, or multi-factor authentication, requires users to authenticate themselves with at least two or more factors. For instance, you'll need a password, a TOTP, and might need an additional biometric to gain access to your account.
To put it in a sentence, every 2FA is MFA but every MFA is not 2FA.
What is adaptive or risk-based MFA?
Adaptive or risk-based MFA is a dynamic version of MFA that decides how a user should be authenticated based on an AI-determined risk level. The deciding factor of the risk is based on contextual information such as user role, user behaviour, device type, location, IP address, and more. The risk score is calculated in real time as the user logs in. Based on the score, the user will be provided with greater or lesser security hurdles.
Let's say you log in to your account during an unusual hour from a different location while traveling. You'll be presented with more authentication factors to verify yourself.
Adaptive MFA is more intuitive than the traditional MFA as it evolves as per the risk estimate.
How much will it cost to implement MFA?
Okay, let's get to the cost of MFA. The cost to employ MFA depends on a lot of factors. There are costs that are specified upfront, like the subscription cost of the software which will vary based on the listed price. There are also possibilities of hidden costs we should be aware of.
For example, there can be separate charges for the authenticator app, charges to add newer apps to your MFA app, server or data maintenance charges, upgrade charges, and more.
While looking to implement MFA for your organization, it is advisable to look for a provider that is transparent about what they offer and the how they charge for it.
Enforce MFA using Zoho Directory
If you are looking to implement MFA for your business, we highly suggest you try Zoho Directory. Zoho Directory is a workforce identity and access platform that offers tools to authenticate and authorize your employees securely. You can enable MFA for your employees and configure MFA modes.
The second factor authentication can be done using our secure authenticator app, Zoho OneAuth free of cost.
If you are interested and would like a demo of how you can go about implementing MFA for your business, feel free to drop a request here.
So, here's a summary:
Passwords are not secure enough for your accounts:
Stolen credentials have been one of the primary causes of security threats. It's time we moved to stronger, better authentication practices.
MFA is the way to secure authentication in organizations.
Multi-factor authentication is a more stringent way of authentication. You need more than a password before you can crack an account. MFA also helps by providing stronger authentication, improving workforce mobility, makes your IT admins' task easier, and aids in staying compliant to security standards.
MFA is evolving.
MFA tools let you set the factors with which you will be authenticated while you log in. They have also improved to a level where they assess risk factors and validate you based on the info.
If you need help setting up MFA, we can help!
MFA is crucial for both security and compliance aspects of an organization. If you need to enable MFA for your organization, you can contact us for a free demo here.