Password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are necessary for meeting data compliance requirements and keeping all of your personal information protected within an organization. The need for multi-factor authentication arises whenever an organization creates a robust multi-layered access environment.
If we look at the statistics, we will know that 99% of systems with traditional passwords aren't secure enough. These systems require powerful technology to prevent unauthorized access and hackers from stealing your employee credentials.
For this purpose, the need for strong passwords and multi-factor authentication is becoming more and more obvious. Multi-factor authentication is considered a tried and tested method of preventing hackers from stealing sensitive information from an organization. This electronic authentication method works by asking the user to provide more than two forms of identity verification before accessing the system. Only a legit user can fulfill all of the requirements.
What Is Multi-factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication requires you to provide authentic evidence for logging into or accessing a website or application. Hence, it plays a vital role in protecting user data, including the safety of financial assets. In most cases, a single password is unable to prevent access to unauthorized third parties.
The role of solid passwords in data production
A strong password is the primary form of protection for online accounts. Still, data breaches and online cyber security attacks have become so common that businesses need advanced technology for the safeguarding of online accounts. In other words, a business that only provides one layer of authentication is basically still leaving their door wide open to hackers. A single password is not enough to ensure the safety of your sensitive information in this era of massive security breaches. Difficult passwords ensure the security of customers' data by all security controls, whether it is related to administrative, physical, personal, or logical aspects. The use of an authentication system is the surest way to motivate your customers to share their data with your or in other words do business with you. With a strong password your are reassuring them about data accessibility and safety. This reassurance makes your services even more reliable.
What are the different types of multi-factor authentication, and how do they play a role in keeping the overall system safe and secure?
This is a multi-layered question, as many people have no idea that multi-factor authentication ensures that hackers cannot access website networks or applications.
There are three major types of multi-factor authentication.
Image describing three types of multi-factor authentication
- In the first type of multi-factor authentication, you must input information that is something you already have recorded in your systems, such as pin code, passwords or secret answers to questions.
- In the second type of multi-factor authentication, you have to provide physical proof of your identity, such as your Smart Card, identity card, driver's license or a key.
- The third type of multi-factor authentication is something you are. For example, when you provide fingerprint information biometric verification, retina scan, or voice recognition, you are using the third type of MFA.
The difference between two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication are closely related terms; however, two-factor authentication is quite limited, as it only uses two checking points to verify and authorize access to the user. On the other hand, multi-factor authentication uses more than two checks and serves as a more robust solution to verification problems. It would be correct to say that MFA is an advanced feature that is one step ahead of 2FA.
Although the importance of traditional passwords can never be underestimated, the multi-factor solution has an edge over conventional passwords. Multi-factor authentication provides a more advanced level of security that makes it difficult for unauthorized users to gain access to the system.
Why does your business need multi-factor authentication and strong passwords?
Image showing the complete pathway of the multifactor authentication scheme
As we know, stolen student passwords and identity theft are becoming common problems in this modern era. On one hand, sometimes passwords fail to protect the system, while two-factor authentication also lacks a carefuly structurede system capable of preventing unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information. This is why multi-factor authentication is important.
Multi-factor authentication makes it very difficult for hackers and cyber security attackers to gain unauthorized access to the system.
The main reason why two-factor authentication often fails is because hackers enter the system using a backdoor method where the victim unknowingly provides sensitive information through email, SMS, or phone call.
There are various methods used by attackers and hackers to steal sensitive information, gain access to passwords and take primary verification data. They can opt for above described creditnail stuffing but also install malware on your PC that will help them dig out all your company data.
This is where single sign-on (SSO) comes into play. SSO authentication directly monitors the strength of passwords and plays a vital role in giving organizations a centralized control over all parties involved in the sharing and utilization of an organization’s information and access to the data system. In this way, SSO technology secures the entire system by strengthening the password management strategies. Some of the major SSO service providers that provide multi- factor authentication include Google workspace, okta, oAuth, jumpcloud, and azure active directory.
Important things to know about passwords and multi-factor authentication
To understand the importance and concept of multi-factor authentication and passwords, you need to know the correct definition of factors and other basics.
Let's have a look at them.
1. Understand the genuine concept of factors
We now know that multi-factor authentication involves the utilization of different verification methods. Passwords, PIN codes, or patterns are considered to be belong to the same security sector. Thus, if you are asked to provide a particular memorized pin or password, it means you are providing only one factor at this stage.
However, when integrating the system with your fingerprint, you add another factor and strengthen the overall cybersecurity system. Therefore, whenever a hacker tries to hack or steal your personal information, they may still retrieve your password but will not be able to steal your fingerprint. The number of factors is directly proportional to the system's security.
2. Understand the difference between a password and multi-factor authentication
As we have already discussed, a password is only one factor. When you proceed with multi-factor authentication, you need to choose a strong password and include various other factors, such as fingerprints, face locks, or physical methods of communication.
3. Multi-factor authentication is not just for one type of business
It is important to note that multi-factor authentication is not just for offices, banks, schools, and colleges. Instead, it protects all online organizations from having their personal information hacked. This means that whenever you want to conduct online business on a social media account, have a digital bank, or any other online system, you will need to enter multiple authentication factors to access the system.
How does multi-factor authentication ensure extra security of the system?
It is no secret that multi-factor authentication seems a bit inconvenient, as entering a lot of information every time you log in can delay your work. If you are worried about this, here’s some information you need to know.
Multi-factor authentication doesn't require you to enter all of the factors every time you log in to an app or device. Instead, the system automatically detects and remembers all of the information after the first time you log in. Thus, if you are logging in multiple times a day, you will only need to enter the primary factor, often a password, PIN code, or a fingerprint.
Multi-factor authentication provides extra security for whenever someone logs into your account from a new device or system and wants to gain access to all your information. At this stage, the person cannot proceed further without completing a detailed verification process.
Businesses cannot afford to have their systems hacked and their customers’ personal information exposed, which is why multi-factor authentication is essential.
Multi-factor authentication benefits your business by sending a one-time passcode to your smartphone so that the hacker CANNOT enter the system without it, leaving the hacker out of luck.
It is important to note that hackers are often lazy and not interested in accessing a system secured by powerful multi-factor authentication. Instead, they prefer hacking a system that requires only a single password. In other words, they try to attack less protected victims. This means that your business should not be weak enough that hackers become interested in your business and can gain access to your database. Only multi-factor authentication can serve as a vital way of password management.
To benefit from multi-factor authentication and strong passwords, you should focus on at least two powerful security factors, including:
- Protecting your system by using information that only the user knows.
- Limiting the access to your database by allowing only the use of data needed to complete a specific support task
From the above discussion, it is evident that in this modern era of technological advancement, businesses need to use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication to ensure the maximum security of their customers’ data.