4 Security (& Other) Benefits Of Multi-Factor Authentication For Business IT
Anyone who keeps track of the news knows that cybersecurity is a hot topic. Whether it’s the latest breach, cyber liability insurance, new tools that hackers are using, or something else, cybersecurity is always top of mind.
If you are considering implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), but aren’t sure of the benefits it offers, this article is for you!
In this article, we’ll explore four security benefits (and other advantages) that MFA provides for every business.
As a managed IT support services organization, Kelser Corporation includes MFA in our comprehensive managed IT solution. But don’t worry, we aren’t writing this article to convince you to work with us.
We are committed to publishing articles that provide unbiased information that business leaders like you can use to make the best technology decisions for their organizations.
We know it’s a different approach, but we also know there are a lot of IT support options available. While we believe in the value our managed IT solution provides, we also know it isn’t right for everyone.
That’s why we focus on providing the information you need to make the best choice for your organization.
What Is MFA?
MFA is a tool many organizations use to add a layer of protection for their infrastructure, devices, and data.
MFA makes it more difficult for hackers to access your data.
How Does MFA Work?
MFA limits access to authorized users by requiring multiple pieces of identification before allowing access to a resource.
MFA tools verify identity in a variety of ways.
Some MFA solutions require a combination of username, password, and biometric (maybe a fingerprint or an eye scan for example).
Others require a username, password, and unique code from a token or “fob.”
Another option pushes a notification to your mobile device that you must approve within seconds before you can gain access.
The combination of those identifiers represents:
- something the user knows (password)
- something the user possesses (a code from an MFA token, or approval via their phone)
- something the user is or that is inherent to that person (like a biometric scan or fingerprint)
Without presenting multiple pieces of identification or approval, the user can’t gain access.
What Are The Security Benefits MFA Provides For Businesses?
Implementing MFA brings several security benefits. It offers:
1. Improved Security
Just like a security camera is a deterrent against crime, MFA adds an additional layer of security for your information and devices.
While MFA isn’t the only security solution your organization needs, it makes your infrastructure more difficult to hack.
2. Reduced Risk
Since MFA makes it harder for criminals to gain access, they may give up and look for an easier target, reducing your organization’s overall risk.
This one tool significantly reduces the risk that your infrastructure or devices will be accessed by cyber criminals.
3. Strength Beyond Passwords
MFA adds another layer of security to complex passwords with one relatively simple step that quickly becomes second nature.
4. Greater Flexibility
Remote work comes with additional risks. MFA makes it more difficult for untended devices to be easily hacked.
Does MFA Offer Other Benefits?
Other benefits of MFA are:
1. Simple Implementation
MFA is relatively simple to implement. In fact, most new platforms already include the capability, and it is just a matter of the administrator activating it.
When using older software, it can be more challenging to implement MFA, but it is well worth the effort to provide additional security for your organization.
2. Identity Verification
With MFA, organizations have increased validation that the person gaining access is an authorized user.
MFA may be a contractual or regulatory requirement in your business agreements. It also is typically required as a pre-requisite to qualify for cyber liability insurance.
Related article: The Truth About 3 Common Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Concerns
Are There Any Disadvantages To MFA?
I have not encountered a single organization for which MFA would not provide safety advantages, but I often hear people question the cost.
I can tell you that implementation costs vary, but MFA is built into most systems available on the market today and it is often simply a matter of turning it on.
Other third-party products, such as DUO, are available for a few dollars per user. These products are great for custom applications or more rigorous tracking of users who access specific applications.
Cost becomes an issue when you need to protect something that doesn’t have native MFA or when you want to configure it to do something special (i.e. use a single code or push platform).
Adding MFA to older systems may require the operating system (OS) to be upgraded before the software will work. It could cost $200 to upgrade a Windows license or significantly more if you need to pay a software engineer to re-write code.
No matter the cost, the extra layer of protection helps dissuade hackers, making it less likely that you will need to pay for an expensive cybersecurity incident recovery.
Why Is MFA Important?
MFA helps protect your applications, hardware, and phones. It keeps company, customer, and user data safe.
Security solutions continue to evolve as hackers become more sophisticated.
Passwords were the first line of defense to protect access. Then we moved to complex passwords, which often require numbers and symbols for added complexity. Password managers made it easier for users by providing one repository for their long, complex passwords.
MFA provides another level of security. While it is not the only solution you need, it makes hacking into your infrastructure more difficult.
What’s The Bottom Line?
In this article, we’ve defined MFA, explained how it works in general terms, and listed the benefits of this cybersecurity tool. We've debunked the idea that MFA cost is a disadvantage and explored why it is important.
Although this tool cannot stand alone, it is an important layer in a holistic cybersecurity approach.
But successful implementation requires careful planning. It’s important to communicate with your users the reasons MFA is being implemented and the benefits it provides. Without this key step, users may not embrace this relatively simple, but important technology.
Some users may view this as “another step” before they can access the tools they need to do their job. While it is an additional step, it takes only seconds and provides measurable security improvements. I’ve found that when we communicate this to users, they are much less resistant to implementation.
Or, you may find that users who don’t have company-issued phones are hesitant to use their personal devices to verify their identity. In my experience, once they understand the value that MFA provides, they often put their hesitation aside more easily.
Now that you have the information, you can decide whether MFA is right for your organization. Having said that, I’ve yet to find a situation where MFA is not applicable.
If you are still on the fence, learn the truth about three common myths about MFA.
Whether you have internal resources or need to look to an external provider to help you implement it, I highly recommend taking action to implement this simple, but effective tool.
Remember, MFA is your proactive defense against evolving cyber threats, but it doesn’t do everything. The best way to improve your cybersecurity defenses is with a combination of tools including regular vulnerability scans and penetration tests.
You may have the internal resources you need to perform these important assessments. If not, an external IT support provider can help.
When exploring external IT support, I encourage you to explore several options to find one that is the best fit for you.
At Kelser, we take this advice so seriously that we’ve even done some of the legwork for you. Read this article to learn how Kelser stacks up against The Walker Group or visit the Kelser Learning center for other comparison articles.
If you are exploring external providers, and you find yourself wanting to talk with a human, click the link below and one of our IT support specialists will reach out to schedule a 15-minute phone call to learn more about your organization, your current IT situation, and your goals. Maybe we’ll be the right fit to work together.