Authentication company Duolingo estimates that the global multi-factor authentication market will reach $20.41 billion by 2025. That is hardly surprising given that the pandemic period saw a staggering 600% increase in malicious emails and rampant data breaches that exposed nearly 36 billion records in just the first half of 2020. Recent data indicates that 81% of security breaches are due to weak or stolen passwords. Needless to say, companies are now looking to secure account access through reliable authentication methods. A 2019 report from Microsoft concluded that two-factor authentication (2FA) was successful in blocking 99.9% of automated attacks. A Managed IT Service Provider can help your organization deploy two-factor authentication in a convenient and cost-effective way.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication is essentially a method of verifying user identity before the user is granted access to the account. This enables extra security later compared to the standard login processes that rely simply on user name and password combinations. As the rampant data breaches in 2020 have already taught us, it's incredibly easy for hackers now to compromise account credentials like usernames and passwords.
Two-factor authentication makes it mandatory for account owners to verify each login attempt. This can be done through sharing an additional verification code through text or email, clicking on a notification, using biometric data, etc. on a secondary device that's owned or registered to the user. If the input is registered as valid, the login attempt is successful. Otherwise, both the user and the administrators of the website are immediately alerted to the potentially unauthorized access attempt.
This kind of authentication helps secure the account even in the case of a data breach where account credentials may already have been compromised. Enabling two-factor authentication is pretty straightforward and most websites allow for a single click enabling of the process. All you need to do is to choose the method of secondary verification that you wish to use. Most services offering two-factor authentication also offer to remember the device you are signing in from. This means that you need to reconfirm the authentication only when you end/ log out from the session completely or try to access the account from a different device or location. Apex Technology Management can help you implement 2FA effectively to manage risks.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication is a type of multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA can employ two or more authentication factors. Ultra-secure facilities, such as government agencies, financial institutions, highly secure corporation facilities and security agencies make use of multi-factor authentication quite often. For instance, they could require users to verify their identity with something they know, such as a password or pin code, something they have, such as an identity card, and something they are, such as biometric data including fingerprint scan, retinal scan and more.
Why is it Important to Implement 2FA?
Simple. It is easy for hackers to brute force passwords now.
Empower Your Passwords; Improve Your Business
The advancement of technology doesn't just benefit legitimate users. Hackers now have access to technology that enables them to test out billions of password combinations per second. This technology is now so effective that it is capable of exposing 90% of all passwords. Needless to say, old-school verification methods such as verifying your parents' names or where you were born are unlikely to be effective against such advanced hacking techniques. This is where two-factor authentication wins out. Even if the hackers are successful in compromising your account credentials, such as your username or password, gaining access to the secondary method of authentication required by the two-factor authentication process is extremely challenging. Criminals will need to not just steal the account credentials but also the secondary authentication device/ method physically owned by the user - who could be anywhere in the world. This makes two-factor authentication or 2FA one of the most secure authentications approaches available.
As surprising as it may sound, two-factor authentication can actually save your company money. And we are not just talking about the significant cost savings that come from preventing data breaches. Recent data indicates that on average data breaches cost companies $4.24 million in 2021.
But here are additional cost savings that come from implementing two-factor authentication:
Reduction in Help Desk Inquiries: If time is money, your IT team will thank you for the time saved simply in helping users reset passwords for their accounts. According to HDI, 35-40% of help desk calls are about password resets, requiring an average time commitment of 20 minutes from helpdesk agents. 2FA is a self-service process and gives employees a convenient and secure way to reset passwords without any additional help. The result is better productivity and critical time savings for the IT teams.
Cloud-based 2FA: Larger enterprises often make use of hardware tokens (or "fobs") to implement two-factor authentication. The tokens can generate one-time passwords. Since employees are required to carry these around on their persons, it's easy to misplace them or forget to return them once they leave the organization. Unfortunately, hardware tokens are often expensive. Using cloud-based tools can enable companies to use soft tokens like SMS and Push Notifications - a better and more cost-effective way to implement two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication has also proved to be a secure method of authenticating user access for employees that are increasingly mobile. This enhances both productivity and flexibility. Even as they access corporate networks from personal devices, the company network and data stay secure thanks to the enhanced security.
Tips When Incorporating 2FA
Here are a few factors to keep in mind when deploying a two-factor authentication policy for your organization:
- Consider alternatives to key fobs
Physical access tokens are great for securing access but expensive and difficult to manage. As already outlined above, you should consider using cloud solutions for more cost-effective options.
- Choose the right factor
Authentication for remote employees and vendors or business partners need not necessarily be the same. You can mix and match from multiple factors. If the default factor is a secure password, then your second factor for remote employees could be a corporate email address or identity access card whereas vendors could verify their identity through a call or text on a registered mobile device.
- Mind your vendors
Individually authenticating users (internal and external) without the right procedure and tools can be very time and resource-heavy. With third-party vendors, the risk is increased if account credentials are shared across the vendor organization. To resolve this, use a dedicated vendor management solution such as the one offered by Apex.
2FA helps to enhance the security provided by passwords that improve employee productivity while bettering your security posture and helping your bottom line. Apex Technology Management can help your business implement two-factor authentication in a way that enhances productivity and cost savings.