Why Two-Factor Authentication Is Worth the Effort

As technology continues to advance at lightning speed, the risk of being scammed by hackers using high-tech, specialized software to gain access to your bank account and other proprietary information is increasing at an even more rapid rate. Phishing attacks continue to rise, as hackers create bogus websites that lure users into entering their usernames and password, thus opening them up to having important data stolen. Couple that with smishing – a form of phishing that utilizes text messages to lure you to an illicit site – and you begin to understand how many fronts hackers are hitting your data on.

Passwords help, but a password alone is no longer enough to protect your data. Those who use the same password for multiple sites and simple passwords that can be easily discovered are even more vulnerable. Choosing complex passwords that are unique to each site and changing them regularly is a good first step to being better protected from hackers. Note that answering security questions is not protecting you as much as you think. These very general answers are usually easy to find through social media and Google. A far more robust way to protect yourself is through Two-Factor Authentication. While it might sound complicated, it is a fast and easy way for your IT services team to protect your personal data – and that of your organization.

Two-Factor Authentication – What is it and why does it work?

Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA, TFA, or MFA (multi-factor authentication) is an extra layer of protection that secures online accounts beyond simply entering a username and password. Along with providing your password, 2FA then checks if the entity attempting to log into your account is actually you by sending a unique, one-time-use code to another linked device, such as your computer or smartphone. For instance, if you log into your Google account from a different device, you will be asked for a security code that can be sent as a text message to your cell phone. In some cases, the code can also be sent through a phone call. Apple’s iCloud security takes it a step further by offering a “trusted devices” setting that sends a four-digit security code to all your Apple hardware when you log in from a new device. In either case, MFA is that second layer of protection to verify that you are the one accessing your information.

Why is MFA so critical for your IT experts to install? Because it provides an additional layer of security when time matters. According to Crane Hassold, senior director of Threat Research for Agari, after a data breach:

  •       Nearly one out of five (18%) accounts gets accessed by hackers within one hour.
  •       Cybercriminals access 40% within six hours.
  •       Half are tapped into within 12 hours of ending up on the dark web.

These frightening statistics make it clear that a password alone, even a complex one, is not enough to keep you safe when cybercriminals are intent on accessing your data.

Beyond Devices

Many organizations are implementing 2FA and are using programs like Google Authenticator to create secure codes that can be received without an internet connection or mobile service. Another option many are implementing is biometric authentication. You know it as facial recognition, voice recognition, or using a thumbprint to verify your identity.

And now there’s an even more intricate way to verify identity that organizations are using called behavioral biometrics. According to Biocatch, “Behavioral biometrics analyzes a user’s digital physical and cognitive behavior to distinguish between cybercriminal activity and legitimate customers, identifying fraud and identity theft. Actual customers and fraudsters interact with digital platforms differently. Where you would enter information one key at a time, criminals are more likely to copy/paste their way through a form. Obviously, it’s more complicated than that, but the main takeaway is that we can use behavioral data to make insights into fraudulent activity.”

With recurring news in recent years of organizations like Uber, Yahoo, Facebook, and Marriott having data breaches, it bears noting that setting up two-factor authentication in your organization can help your IT services team prevent a security disaster. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google all offer 2FA systems that are easy to use. And everyone in your organization should use them. It may take an additional minute or two to verify your identity, but that’s a small price to pay compared to having your identity stolen and all your data compromised. With 2FA you are immediately contacted if someone is trying to hack an account, which gives your organization’s IT team time to react.

For more information on staying up to date on the latest security measures, contact Dyrand Managed IT Services. Our team will guide you through choosing the right security measures for your organization.