Multi Factor Authentication – Why You Shouldn’t Wait Anymore

Multi-factor authentication – it’s a familiar term in the corporate security domain. The simplest way to define multi-factor authentication is the upgrade from two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication uses a password and an OTP to authenticate your person before providing access.
Before we proceed with why to go ahead with multi factor authentication, we need to set some context. For this, it becomes important to state where two-factor authentication fails. Post this, we will proceed with how MFA addresses loopholes that 2FA couldn’t.


Lock - Multifactor authentication
Security to your critical infrastructure is becoming crucial to businesses as we work in a more hybrid manner.

How does two-factor authentication work?

Two-factor authentication uses two criteria to confirm a user’s identity before providing them access to corporate resources. These two criteria were typically the user’s password and a one-time password, sent to the user’s official email address or phone number. 2FA was a big achievement when the rise in cybercrime threatened business operations.
But it didn’t take much time for cybercriminals to bypass the password and even the one-time password. It was easy for users to share passwords and OTPs over the phone or email to enable access from various devices. The principles upon which secure authentication rested needed to adapt. This led to the development of multi-factor authentication.

Multi-Factor Authentication - The Loopholes It Addresses

When it comes to multi-factor authentication, the approach to authentication is more refined. The different factors that can be used to authenticate a user are as follows:
  • What the user uniquely knows – Also called the knowledge factor, this relies on a unique detail known only by the user, like a password.
  • What the user uniquely possesses – This relies on something only the user has, like a security token, ID card or app that can validate the user.
  • What the user has on his person – this factor is something that the user carries all the time with them. Also known as the inherence factor, the way to check this factor was using biometric means.
In addition to this, multi-factor authentication can also consider factors like the current location of the user for validating their access.
Now that we’ve laid out why MFA trumps traditional 2FA methodologies, let us also paint a fair picture and understand the pros and cons of implementing an MFA solution for your organization.
Multi Factor Authentication - Pros and Cons

How To Proceed With Implementing MFA

We have now explained the issues with using a 2FA approach to security, how MFA addresses these issues and the pros and cons of deploying an MFA solution. But what is the next step in taking this forward?
Here’s a set of guidelines to keep in mind before you roll out an implementation plan.

1. Understand the applications you want to manage using MFA.

Your organization uses a range of business-critical applications, which are usually distributed between your on-premises infrastructure and your private cloud. Does your MFA have to cater to all these applications? Can your requirements be addressed with an IAM or PAM solution?
Mapping this out will help you better understand which MFA solutions can meet your requirements.

2. Which user authentication factors are critical?

While MFA accommodates all known factors of authentication, requiring the user to submit multiple entries before access can hamper the user experience, which is a precursor to shadow IT activities inside the organization. The sweet spot is between 2-3 factors.

3. How widely the solution’s been used.

The test of a robust MFA solution is when they’re the first name in the heads of both small and large companies. Investing in an MFA solution is a time-consuming task, and the acceptance of a solution in the market is evidence of its offerings.
Future developments with an MFA solution come in the following areas:
  • Adaptive MFA: This development in MFA uses contextual policies to approve users on the go. This means that user access is restrained when your users perform actions out of the defined context. An example would be when your users use a VPN to access your corporate applications, when they don’t need to.
  • Push authentication: This utilizes an automated authentication which the user has to approve. But it removes the need for them remembering the specific factor. A push notification will pop up when the user tries to access an application. On performing the action required by the notification, they can gain access.
  • Single Sign On: Single Sign On requires the user to have only one set of user credentials for all applications. The device used by the user validates the user’s identity, and passes this on to all applications. A relatively new form of MFA, SSO simplifies the need to remember different factors.

MFA is becoming a critical part of an organization’s security policy. As the world moves into a hybrid form of working, it is necessary to take the right measures to maintain corporate integrity. If you’re interested to know more, sign up on the form below and someone from our team will get in touch!

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