Managed IT Services Tip: Multi-Factor Authentication & Why Passwords are No Longer Enough

Passwords are not the ultimate security you may think they are. Unfortunately, even if your password is a complex string of letters, numbers, and special characters, hackers still have the ability to reach you. By using a layered defense across your IT infrastructure, unauthorized individuals will be significantly less likely to gain access to your sensitive information. This is something that a managed IT services expert can help implement. Let’s walk through how multi-factor authentication can provide you with a safer, smarter way to run your business.

What Does Multi-Factor Authentication Protect You Against?

In Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, it was found that breaches involving phishing went up by 11% in one year, while ransomware incidents doubled. By boosting your managed IT services strategy with the use of multi-factor authentication, you are able to better combat hacking methods that aim to bypass your security.

Phishing

Phishing emails are typically too good to be true or from an unusual sender. They play up the emotional aspects of human decision-making. Common features consist of hyperlinks or attachments they expect you to access, and a sense of urgency within the message. With just one link, hackers can install malicious code on your device and steal your information. In a two-year experiment held by Duo, 60% of their phishing campaigns were successful in capturing at least one login credential. This shows how easy it is—without the proper authorization points—for hackers to get people to open and click their emails.

Ransomware

Designed to spread across networks, ransomware attacks file servers, databases, and applications. Once malware has established its presence on an endpoint, it stays on the system until it has accomplished its task. In the case of ransomware, the task is to paralyze an organization and then demand money within a certain time period to decrypt the files. Even your data backups could be encrypted, leaving you with no way to step around the issue. Because of this, cybercriminals have generated billions of dollars in payments. It is important to note that, if you were to send the hacker money, there is still no guarantee that you will be able to recover those files.

The Smart Precaution of Cyber Insurance

Data breaches can result in major legal fees and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also can take a serious hit on your reputation. Without cyber insurance, you are putting your customers and employees at a greater risk. Where general liability insurance covers property damage and bodily injuries, cyber insurance, which is often excluded, covers the liability for violated sensitive information. This includes health records, credit card numbers, and Social Security numbers, to name a few things. It also helps with the recovery of the compromised data, notifies customers about the breach, and covers financial losses.

With so much of our lives shifting online in 2020, the rate of cyberattacks has skyrocketed. Back in May, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity to mandate multi-factor authentication for federal agencies. This order sends a signal to all cyber insurance companies that this is a step they need to take. While it has yet to be standardized, many of these companies have taken that step, improving their managed IT services for networking, communications, and security.

Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication

Over the past decade, cybersecurity efforts have continued to evolve, in order to keep up with expanding hacking abilities. Here are some of the ways that you can currently incorporate multi-factor authentication into your digital workspace.

General Remote Access

Remote access systems should support compliance with industry regulations. Failing to meet those standards can cause a disruption to the business, as well as a loss of trust. Multi-factor authentication for remote access is used in situations involving organizations’ relationships with third parties. Your organization should have a protocol that ensures that only your assigned technicians have remote access. The common credentials they should be given are a unique password, a security token to authorize their identity through a card or their smart device, and the secure biometric verification of facial recognition software or fingerprint scanning.

VPN

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create an encrypted tunnel for off-site users to connect with company data. It is the industry-standard method for providing remote access to internal applications. Businesses have been using VPNs for years to promote security, but they still could be breached. Protect your VPN against credential theft by providing higher degrees of identity assurance. This makes sure that the right people have access outside of the office. VPNs can support the authentication methods of push notifications, one-time password authentication, and biometric verification, as well as the applications of Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator.

Office 365

Microsoft has made great strides in security enhancement for its hosted services. Office 365 showcases its additional security by making you approve sign-ins to your account using a mobile device. It is recommended that you download both the Outlook app and Microsoft Authenticator for all multi-factor authentication purposes. You will be able to bulk update your Office 365 through the admin center, resulting in active users being required to do some secondary verification the next time they sign in. You can change the settings for the cached token time to how you see fit. Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory also allows administrators to specify geographic location and trusted device conditions to prevent unauthorized access.

Cloud Portals

Cloud platforms can host multiple portals that are either private or public to end-users. With the proliferation of cloud applications comes the attention of hackers who focus their efforts on the data stored there. You have the power to choose how and when to enroll your users in layered security. It can be demanded as part of their registration to your app, suggested on their account management page, or added incrementally when the user wants to access certain high-security features. The best bet would be to encourage your users to register more than one secondary factor for account recovery because, if they lose access to the first, they will be locked out of their account.

Multi-factor authentication is capable of blocking over 99.9% of attacks on your account. Of course, no security system is perfect. But the additional layers that multi-factor authentication provides your IT infrastructure certainly decreases the vulnerability of your digital security architecture. Learn more about the managed IT services that Texas Systems Group can bring to the table to ensure that the data of your business or healthcare organization is protected.

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