Multifactor authentication is an easy IT security measure that small- and mid-sized businesses can use to protect their data. Once a tool used primarily by enterprise companies, MFA is now an accessible – and necessary – tool for all businesses. However, many business owners remain unsure about how to implement it across their organization. Here’s what you need to know.
How Does Multifactor Authentication Work?
Multifactor authentication (MFA) uses a step-by-step process that requires two or more factors before you can access your account. Your password is the first factor of MFA, and then you enter a second factor before you can log in. Once this information is verified, you can quickly get to work – safely and securely.
You've probably used some form of MFA while logging into your bank account or Google. If you've ever been asked to enter a code texted to your phone when logging into a website, you've used MFA.
In addition to your password for a website or application, MFA relies on one of four other factors to authenticate that you are who you say you are:
- Something you have. This factor refers to a physical item, often a device like a phone, tablet, or smartwatch.
- Something you know. A PIN or a one-time pass code might be used as a factor
- Something you are. Biometrics may be used as a factor - for example a fingerprint or facial recognition.
- Somewhere you are. Your location can be used as a factor - often this is used if you are connecting from inside the network. Or perhaps, GPS may be used to confirm where - and who - you are.
In this article, we focus on MFA solutions that rely on "something you have."
What are the Benefits of MFA?
Because there are many different types of data breaches, business owners should assume a data breach isn’t a matter of “if” – it’s a matter of “when.”
To limit these breaches, MFA provides layered security to protect against incidents like malware, , breaches, firewall attacks, and email phishing. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: people often fall for these phishing attacks and give up their passwords to hackers.
Another benefit of MFA is cost-effectiveness and ease-of-use. In the past two years, MFA has become much more widespread, significantly decreasing its cost. It’s also become more efficient which is important because if it’s too complicated, users won’t implement it.
When Should You Use MFA, and How Do You Set It Up?
It is best practice to use MFA whenever possible - but, especially, when you need to protect sensitive information. With more employees working from home and connecting remotely into your network, it is even more important to be sure you know it is your employee connecting to your network - and not a hacker.
Cloud tools like Microsoft 365 are great for productivity, but cloud-based email is a target for hackers. If you or your company use Microsoft 365, you must protect your accounts.
To set up MFA, you can choose from free or paid options, depending on how you want the system set up, your security needs, and the size of your company. Microsoft, Google Authenticator, and Duo offer effective MFA systems. Microsoft build a free MFA system into its business subscription programs. Google Authenticator is free and can be installed on many sites.
Free MFA tools are a great option, but they cannot be managed at a company level and often rely on the more cumbersome authentication methods like texts and codes.
Starting at as little as $3 per user, you can upgrade to a products like Duo. Duo "push notifications" are as easy as tapping a button. Products like Duo also give your management and IT teams better control and administration.
How Can Silverado Help You Set Up MFA?
From confirming which sites and applications are compatible to configuration and testing with your team, our team will 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'll review your MFA regularly, along with the rest of your security stack, to be sure you are getting the most out of your security.
MFA is an important part of Silverado's security stack 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. The initial process typically takes just a few hours, but additional time may be needed to help the users adjust. Your IT service provider should be prepared to answer all user questions.
If you still have questions about why it’s important to implement multifactor authentication, or if you would like assistance in setting up and scaling this important cybersecurity measure for your company, contact Silverado for more information.