Over the past two years, we have largely been a witness to the most dramatic technological shift in history. Organizations fast tracked their adoption of technologies that allowed for fully remote and hybrid work. Now, as more companies realize this is a permanent shift, focus has shifted to securing those technologies for the long haul. It’s time to take a step back and ask: Does my belief in the myths about multifactor authentication (MFA), hinder my security posture?
Misinformation is running rampant
In today's ever-changing cyber threat landscape, IT security is critical to guaranteeing business continuity. Despite the growing emphasis on security, numerous myths and misconceptions continue to impede organizations from effectively securing their operations. Here are some typical misunderstandings about multifactor authentication:
The Most Common Myths
MYTH: Only big companies benefit from MFA
When you think about it, this myth doesn't make much sense. A company's size has nothing to do with the security measures it needs to employ. Even small businesses can handle sensitive information, which should be subject to strict oversight and security.
Furthermore, implementing multifactor authentication does not require a large staff. There are examples of MFA that are simple to implement, monitor, and manage. While the drawbacks of not using MFA may be more severe for a small organization, any security breach can result in a huge expense as well as a loss of reputation and credibility.
MYTH: MFA should only be required from privileged users
The idea behind this misconception is that since only privileged users have access to critical data, they should be the only ones who need MFA. However, this assumption is largely incorrect, as most – if not all – company employees have access to some level of sensitive business data.
This misconception is one that hackers frequently exploit. They utilize phishing or other social engineering tactics to target non-privileged users. Then they may easily obtain access to sensitive or important data stored on your network.
MYTH: It is expensive to enable MFA
This misconception stems from the early days of MFA, when a hardware token was often required and could cost as much as $100 each. These tokens were easily lost, stolen, or misplaced, making the process even more difficult and costly.
Thankfully, there are now much easier ways of distributing those one-time passwords. Many applications can send the code directly to your smartphone in the form of a text message or a push notification. No additional hardware needed! A large factor to consider when calculating the price of implementing MFA is to consider how much would you lose without it in the case of a security event?
MYTH: Multifactor authentication ruins the user experience
Businesses work hard and spend a lot of money to make the user experience as smooth as possible. It’s understandable that users may be resistant to adding one more step to gain access to systems. While it does add another step, MFA is becoming more and more common, and users are more accepting – and may even expect – to perform this extra step. More companies we interact with in our personal lives require MFA to access their site such as, banking and shopping websites, social media and even our long beloved debit cards use MFA (your personal ID number or PIN).
During the implementation of MFA into your organization, to improve the end-user experience, your IT service provider should be prepared to answer all user questions.
MYTH: MFA is challenging to implement
As it is the case with any security measure, even the best MFA programs come with some implementation challenges. However, as technology continues to improve and develop, the implementation process becomes much easier. More applications and systems improved their compatibility with MFA – some now even require it.
The biggest challenge out team has seen is a hesitancy to fully implement MFA on all reasonable applications. We understand it can be difficult to balance an MFA implementation with your existing priorities. I recommend working with a top-level IT services provider to help you understand any related compliance requirements. They can recommend which solutions best align those requirements, as well as your industry and user needs.
MYTH: MFA is not a guaranteed safeguard
Well, actually - you got me there. There are no security solutions that provide 100% guaranteed safety against all types of security attacks. However, most MFA examples show that it is not usually worth the effort, time, and resources for cybercriminals to spend trying to exploit MFA.
There have been many recent improvements to MFA that make it even more impenetrable. However, if you’re still not convinced, you should remember that MFA is not the only security solution. It should be part of a layered security plan and combined with a culture of security for additional protection.
Sometimes criminals don’t even have to rely on social engineering to deceive someone into helping them. There have been several reports recently that indicate some people will happily accept a push notification, even when they aren’t trying to log in. A good reminder that human error remains the biggest security threat!
So, what can you do right now to shore up your IT Security?
The first and most important step must include user education to gain acceptance and avoid pushback, confusion, or a painful rollback. Focus on deploying MFA on devices first, as they are the single most important access point to an organization’s resources. Many end-user applications and websites allow you to require MFA to log in. As these are included with the software, it’s a cost-effective way to introduce MFA to your organization.
If your business advertises on or uses social media, you can also turn those features on for your accounts. While a hacker might not gain access to your business data, the potential damage to your reputation alone should be enough incentive to turn these features on.
Many software programs like Microsoft 365, also have built in MFA features. If you aren’t sure whether the software you use has this feature available, reach out to your IT service provider.
Multifactor authentication measures are an effective tool. Organizations should not indulge common myths about using MFA.
From confirming which sites and applications are compatible to configuration and testing with your team, Silverado can help you properly roll out MFA to your users. We can even assist you in getting the message out to your users about what to expect when they start using MFA. As a Silverado Managed Services client, we will regularly review your layered security plan, including your MFA.
MFA is an important part of Silverado's layered security approach and is key in developing a layered defense for your systems. MFA can be rolled out in phases, depending on how many applications or websites you need to secure. While the initial process normally takes only a few hours, we do find that additional time may be needed to help the users learn to navigate it.
Do you still have questions about why it’s important to implement multifactor authentication? Would you like assistance in setting up and scaling this important cybersecurity measure for your company? Contact Silverado for more information. What are you waiting for?