7 Benefits of Multi Factor Authentication
What is MFA and How does it Work?
At a basic level, authentication requires proof that users are who they say they are. Multi-factor authentication takes it step further by requiring users to provide proof from two or more authentication factors (categories) before access is granted. A hacker or unauthorized user may be able to steal a password or buy it on the dark web, but for them to gain access to a second authentication factor is slim and requires much more effort. Consequently, MFA stops most bad actors before they can enter your systems and gain access to your data.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) reduces the risk of security breaches from occurring and keeps data safe. In the past, requiring a static username and password to access an account seemed sufficient for security. However, weak or stolen passwords can be used to execute fraud attacks and data breaches when they are the only form of authentication required. Using MFA to bolster password security with another form of authentication is proven to keep hackers out of your systems. According to Microsoft, MFA can “prevent 99.9 percent of attacks on your accounts.”
What are 7 Benefits of MFA?
By requiring users to provide multiple credentials prior to accessing accounts, hackers are prevented from using stolen passwords, devices, or other individual pieces of information to enter your network. A recent Ping Identity survey revealed that security and IT professionals consider multi-factor authentication to be the most effective security control to have in place for protecting on-premises and public cloud data.
Reduces Risk from Compromised Passwords
While passwords are the most common form of authentication, they are the least secure. People may reuse or share passwords, which can also be stolen or guessed, leading to exposure for account holders and system administrators. A 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 61 percent of breaches in 2020 were executed using unauthorized credentials.
Compatible with Single Sign-On (SSO)
MFA can be embedded into applications and integrated with single sign-on. Users no longer have to create multiple unique passwords or make the risky choice of reusing the same password for different applications when logging in. Together with SSO, MFA reduces friction while verifying the user’s identity, which saves time and improves productivity.
Scalable for Changing User Bases
Multi-factor authentication easily adapts to your business needs. MFA can be set up for all users, including employees, customers and partners. Single sign-on combined with MFA eliminates the need for multiple passwords, streamlines the login process, improves the user experience, and reduces the number of calls to IT departments for password assistance.
There may be industry or geographical regulations requiring MFA. For example, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) requires that MFA be implemented in some situations to prevent unauthorized users from accessing payment processing systems. It also helps meet strong customer authentication requirements dictated by Payments Service Directive 2 (PSD2) in the EU. In addition, MFA helps healthcare providers comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Enables Enterprise Mobility
The pandemic made remote work options necessary for many organizations and sped up the digital transformation. Allowing employees to use mobile devices to easily and securely access the resources they need increases productivity. Using MFA to log into business applications, especially when integrated with SSO, provides the flexibility and 24/7 access employees need, while keeping networks and data protected.
Adaptable for Different Use Cases
Some situations call for greater security, like conducting high-value transactions and accessing sensitive data from unknown networks and devices. Adaptive MFA uses contextual and behavioral data such as geolocation, IP address and time since last authentication to assess risk. If the IP address is considered risky (e.g., coffee shop or anonymous network) or other red flags are noted, authentication factors can be added as needed to gain a higher level of assurance about a user’s identity.