What Is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Is It Important?

Everyone is a live target in the current threat landscape, and data breaches make the headlines almost daily. Whether it’s a company or an individual, the risk is higher than ever before. For example, hackers now have access to approximately 15 billion stolen login credentials sourced from over 100,000 data breaches.

That’s just about everyone on the planet!

In this scenario, if one of your accounts was compromised, the potential for an attacker to exploit it is high. If it’s your email account, they might send emails to your contacts, attempt to gain access to enterprise infrastructure or share dodgy phishing links (that compromise their accounts).

Suppose you reused your username or password on another platform. Now that is also vulnerable to a cyberattack. It could potentially lead to identity theft, fraud, and other nightmare situations.

For companies, the fallout from a security incident can be significant. So, never reuse your login credentials and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA is an additional security layer that demands users to present two pieces of credential evidence when logging into an account. These credentials take the form of a second password, an SMS with a PIN, or a code from an app like Google Authenticator.

Why Is Multi-Factor Authentication Important?

Whether it’s your bank, email, mobile app, or even your social media account, adding an additional layer of security makes it difficult for threat actors to steal your sensitive data or impersonate you. For example, if you use your phone for MFA, criminals must steal both your password and your phone to log in.

MFA also remembers your device and uses it as another form of authentication. It’s excellent because threat actors continue to use multi-pronged attacks, and you can never have too much security. This activity is often further supported by geological and behavioural analytics.

MFA Secures Cloud and Enterprise Infrastructure

As remote working quickly becomes the norm, enterprises must enforce MFA to ensure data privacy and security. If the company doesn’t, its cloud and related infrastructure are vulnerable to a credential stuffing attack.

MFA Helps Negate a Data Breach

MFA is a critical step that businesses can take to avoid a potential data breach. According to Microsoft, using a second factor for authentication can block as much as 99.9% of attacks.

MFA Helps Companies Avoid Regulatory Fines

If you’re collecting and storing sensitive customer (or patient) data, your business will likely suffer significantly more in the event of a security incident. For example, you’ll potentially face regulatory fines, lawsuits, and damage to brand value.

MFA Protects Users from Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks like phishing attacks attempt to fool the user into giving up their passwords and personally identifiable information. However, with MFA, these types of attacks are rendered useless because the MFA code that’s generated each time will be different.

However, no security protocol is infallible, and MFA alone won’t be enough to protect your organisation. Instead, it should be used in concert with other security technologies and strategies to enhance your security posture.

As such, you should use MFA whenever possible, even if it doesn’t concern sensitive data. Businesses with an online customer-facing website benefit from adding MFA to help protect their infrastructure and (of course) their customers. It also goes a long way in ensuring that your customers feel secure.

To learn more about how you can protect your business from cyberattacks, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house security experts.