What is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Use It?

October 21, 2022

Ransomware Attacks Continue to Evolve

Ransomware remains the biggest cybersecurity threat. InfoSecurity reports, “Ransomware damages are expected to exceed $30 billion worldwide in 2023”. Every week the news reports a story about a powerful attack; however, many targets are small and medium-sized businesses that don’t make the headlines. Even if you can afford to pay the ransom, can your business survive the cost of restoring your network and computer storage function, downtime, and damage to your reputation? Deploying Multi-factor authentication (MFA) decreases the risk of ransomware and defends against other cyberattacks.

What is MFA?

MFA, commonly referred to as two-factor authentication (2FA), adds a layer of authentication, deterring password theft and credential compromise attacks. It provides an extra tier of security to your accounts, data, and systems by requiring two or more pieces of information during the authentication process. There are three critical factors in MFA:

  • Something you know, like a password, PIN, or passphrase.
  • Something you have, like a real-time, unique verification code. These authentication codes are usually generated by a mobile application or security token or delivered via text message.
  • Something you are, at a biometric level, such as a fingerprint, iris scan, or voice pattern.

Why Implement MFA?

Implementing MFA is a vital tool that goes a long way in keeping your accounts secure; plus (as explained below), it’s easy to add, easy to use, and far more secure than a password alone. Three main benefits: 

  1. It’s easy to add – Yes, you must take action to enable MFA for your logins. But the process isn’t complicated. Sites and applications generally provide simple, step-by-step instructions that clearly explain when to expect an MFA prompt and how to complete a login.
  2. It’s easy to use – As noted, an organization might implement MFA in multiple ways. But regardless of the technology behind the additional authentication factor(s), MFA adds just a few seconds to your login process. (And the extra seconds are worth it.)
  3. It’s far more secure than a password alone – Cybercriminals have access to billions of stolen usernames and passwords on underground forums. What if the only thing standing between a criminal and your data, finances, and files is a compromised password? MFA helps to limit the damage that can be done if a threat actor steals (or buys) account credentials.

Additional Steps to Protect Your Business

In addition to MFA, a couple of other steps you can take to protect your business include training your employees to recognize phishing attacks and developing an incident response plan in case you are attacked. If you need help or an evaluation of your current cybersecurity controls, our professionals are here to guide you.