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Tim Colby

By: Tim Colby on January 06, 2023

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The Truth About 3 Common Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Concerns

Cybersecurity

If you are considering implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), you’ve likely heard three common concerns: it’s expensive, it’s difficult to implement, and it negatively affects productivity.

In this article, we’ll address these concerns about MFA and honestly tell you whether they are based on reality or not. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to confidently decide whether MFA is a good solution for your organization or not. 

As the service desk manager at Kelser, I work with MFA and answer questions from organizations just like yours every day. I can address these three concerns based on real-life experience, giving you the information you need to make the right decision for your organization. 

What Is MFA?

MFA is a security tool that protects your organization’s data by requiring users to provide multiple pieces of identification before granting access to an application, website, or other IT service.


Related article: What Is Multi-Factor Authentication? Do I Need It? 


How Does MFA Work?

When a user starts the login process, MFA requires at least one additional piece of information to verify identity before allowing access

Options for MFA requirements can include text messages, phone calls, or push notifications asking a user to verify via another device that they are seeking access. MFA could also require a physical means of identification such as a token or biometric.

The options for access can be specific to a single application or service (i.e. you need to use it to access your email or virtual private network) or to a physical machine like your laptop or other device.

Some MFA systems can also be used to set up single sign-on (SSO) privileges which allow you to one username and password to access all or most of your systems. 


Related article: 5 Simple Ways To Strengthen Your Passwords


Are The Concerns About MFA Valid?

In my daily work, I’ve talked with business and IT leaders about their concerns with MFA. Let’s explore the three concerns I hear most often. 

Concern 1: MFA Is Expensive

Whenever people hear about new technology, they assume it will involve an additional cost

The Reality:

MFA is built into most systems available on the market today and it is simply a matter of turning it on.

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. If the platform is an older piece of software, you may need to upgrade it or find an alternative, but the cybersecurity benefits it provides are well worth the expense.

Costs will vary greatly. For example, it could cost about $200 to upgrade a Windows license or significantly more if you need to pay a software engineer to re-write code. 

Concern 2: MFA Is Difficult To Implement

MFA has a reputation for being difficult to implement

The Reality:

As we mentioned above, most new platforms already include the capability for MFA, and it is just a matter of going in at the administrator level and activating it. 

For older software, it can be more challenging to implement MFA, but it is well worth the effort to provide additional security for your organization.

What this retrofit could cost varies depending on whether you need an add-on, an appliance gateway, a new platform or someone to re-write the code.

Concern 3: MFA Negatively Impacts Productivity

People often assume that adding MFA tools has significant a negative impact on productivity

The Reality: 

While MFA may have negatively impacted productivity in the past, there are now options that make it possible for users to sign in once and stay logged in for up to eight hours, providing additional security with minimal productivity impact

Are There Different Levels Of MFA?

There are different levels of MFA.

The level you need is typically determined by regulatory or insurance requirements depending on your industry and risk.

Higher tiers give you a variety of ways to generate reports as well as additional options to restrict access in a more fine-tuned way. But 99% of our customers are good on the basic tier. 

What Types Of Organizations Benefit From MFA?

MFA offers significant security benefits to all organizations. At the very least MFA should be set up for email access (which is one of the most common vectors for cyber-attacks).

Regulated entities will have more strict guidelines about how and when MFA must be implemented. 

And, many insurance companies now require companies of all sizes to implement MFA as a prerequisite for cyber insurance policies. 

Is MFA Right For You? 

After reading this article, you have a complete understanding of the three most common concerns about MFA.

You know when cost issues could arise, what might make it difficult to implement, and the real effect of MFA on productivity. 

We’ve explored options for different levels of protection using MFA and why all organizations benefit from implementing it in some way.

At this point, you may be ready to move forward. Your internal IT organization, may be able to help. If they can’t or you don’t have an internal IT staff, you can find an external provider to help you implement MFA. 

If you decide to work with an external IT provider, we encourage you to compare several options to get the right fit for you!  We take this advice so seriously, that we’ve even done some of the legwork for you.

Read this article that provides an honest comparison of IT Direct and Kelser based on public information available on the internet. 

Why do we write articles about our competitors? That’s a valid question. We believe in customer relationships that are based on honesty from the very beginning. And, there is no sense in us working together if we aren’t the right fit. That only leads to frustration. 

We provide information you can use to make the best decision for your organization from the outset. As consumers ourselves, we know the first thing we do when making an important buying decision is to search the internet. The way we see it, we just save you a step.

So, check out several providers and make sure you ask the right questions before engaging with an external IT provider

Click on the link below to download our free cybersecurity eBook and learn 10 actions you can take now (one of which is MFA) to enhance your organization's cybersecurity today.

Download Your Cybersecurity eBook

About Tim Colby

Tim Colby manages Kelser Corporation's service desk. He has over 13 years of managed service experience working mainly in industries such as healthcare, finance, and defense. Tim specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure, audit and compliance readiness, and Microsoft 365 messaging and collaboration services.

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