2020 Cybersecurity essentials: Multifactor authentication

2020 Cybersecurity essentials: Multifactor authentication

What if the most important app your employees use became inaccessible in the snap of a finger? If you’re not using multifactor authentication, the only thing stopping that from happening is a string of 8–15 characters.

That’s scary, considering that an eight-character password could be guessed by a computer program in less than half a day. Increase your password to 15 random characters and it would take a computer approximately 16 billion years to guess the correct combination of letters and numbers.

why you need multifactor authentication infogrpahic

But it doesn’t matter how long and complex a password is if the user is on a personal (read: unsecured) device connected to a home network (also probably unsecured). Random guesses by a computer program won’t be necessary because hackers will be able to read the password in plain text.

Unless you add multifactor authentication into the mix.

What is multifactor authentication?

All multifactor authentication (MFA) does is add a second step to login processes (sometimes a third and fourth as well). Think of it as a gate with multiple padlocks, one for each step of the login process. If a hacker knows your password, they still have another obstacle to overcome — the second padlock.

Instead of just requiring another string of characters, MFA usually asks for a different type of information in step two. A password is something you know, so we recommend trying one of these identifiers to shake things up:

  • Something you have – Common examples of this include codes sent to physical objects that only the account owner should possess, such as a mobile phone or physical security token.
  • Something you are – Verifying a user’s identity based on biometric information like a fingerprint or facial scan is arguably the best way to stop unauthorized access to an account.

Most of the apps you use already have options to enable some form of MFA (this site lists hundreds). But when some apps require a password coupled with something you have and other apps require a password as well as something you are, things get complicated. And nothing is worse for cybersecurity than confused or annoyed users.

If you have the time and resources, it’s safer to implement a single MFA process across the entire company, rather than one that changes from app to app.

MFA also makes logging in to apps easier

Without MFA enabled, employees must create new and complex passwords every few months to avoid a data breach. That annoying policy practically forces an employee to guess their own password since they haven’t used the same one long enough for it to lodge itself in their memory.

With MFA enabled, there’s no need to constantly change passwords. There’s also an AI component to MFA that further simplifies security. For example, if a user logs on at the same time from the same device every day, they would only need one authentication method, such as a fingerprint scan on their mobile phone.

Is MFA required by HIPAA?

MFA is not explicitly required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, implementing it does cross off some of the Administrative Safeguards requirements. If you operate in the healthcare industry and choose to optimize for single-factor authentication, you subject yourself to several vague regulatory requirements, such as having:

  • “Appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information.”
  • “Procedures for creating, changing, and safeguarding passwords.”
  • “Procedures to determine that the access of a workforce member to electronic protected health information is appropriate.”

Not exactly black and white requirements are they? Since MFA is one component of an effective HIPAA compliance plan, we created a Security-as-a-Service package to help businesses in Phoenix deal with cyberthreats and regulatory compliance.

What is Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS)?

Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) consolidates MFA, firewall management, email security, and anti-malware software into a single package for a flat monthly rate. It kicks off with a network assessment to uncover which solutions you need to protect your data and customer relationships, without adding complicated IT requirements to you or your team.

Every business has unique technology needs. Our SECaaS might be the answer for some while others can get by fine with a smaller-scale solution, which we can also provide. Contact us today if you’re interested in a quote for our cybersecurity services.

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