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The Importance of Multi-Factor Authentication While Working From Home

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Work from home positions have quickly been becoming more common as technology advances.  But, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck much of the business world a few months ago, most businesses were still unprepared for the changes that it brought with it.

The infrastructure required to support work-from-home wasn’t there. Most businesses found themselves scrambling to create workable systems that allowed people to work from home effectively.

But even as pandemic restrictions are easing, work from home has stayed. Chances are, now that much of the work from home infrastructure exists, it’s here for the long-haul. Unfortunately, all that scrambling to get work from home set up left little room for many businesses to consider the new security risks they were introducing.

Now that we know that work from home is going to be more common moving forward, it’s time to consider how to address the cybersecurity challenges that come with work from home.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can add a lot to your cybersecurity plan. A good MFA protects you and your employees, without making it more difficult to log in. These simple security systems should be one of the first upgrades you consider when you’re looking for ways to improve cybersecurity across your remote workforce.

What Is MFA?

Multi-factor authentication relies on more than just putting in a password to access secure systems. That’s important because a surprisingly large percentage of passwords, 70%, are re-used. Many of those passwords are relatively weak and easy for bad actors to guess.

Since so many passwords are re-used, a hacker that breaches a single password can have access to a wide variety of accounts. That might include your employee’s work accounts, even if your company was not one of the original targets of the attack.

Multi-factor authentication helps resolve security issues by requiring more than a single layer of security information to access secure accounts.

Generally, MFAs use a combination of:

  1. User-generated information (passwords and PINs)
  2. User owned technology (smartphones, email addresses, and other secondary contact points)
  3. User Biometrics (fingerprints and other biometric markers)

If you’ve ever been sent an authentication code via text or email, you were using MFA. The goal is to make it much harder for hackers to breach your cybersecurity, even if they have some login information.

Using an MFA can immediately reduce the risk of a breach. That protects you, your company’s information and accounts, and even your employees. A good MFA is a win for everyone except hackers. 

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Contextual Authentication

Another MFA option that is getting more popular for some organizations is contextual authentication. Essentially this form of authentication increases the requirements for more sensitive information while allowing for simpler authentication in areas where a cybersecurity breach would be less serious.

Contextual authentication systems also generally ask for the additional layers of authentication as you or your employees access the account or system that is protected. So, it’s only used when they access that particular part of your system, and your employees will authenticate who they are every time they access.

While this style of authentication isn’t as streamlined as other authentication systems, it can be more secure.

Implementing MFA

Implementing MFA doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Most programs are compatible with MFA to at least some extent, which makes it easier to get started.

Any internal or external application you use is likely a candidate for an MFA security program.  It’s also just as important to make sure that you’re implementing an MFA that makes sense. While many programs and business services have the option of including MFA, your employees likely won’t appreciate having to work through several different authentication programs during their workday.

You should always consider whether the authentication methods proposed within your MFA are reasonable for the kind of work you’re doing.

Once you’ve decided on an MFA, it’s also important to make sure that you send out a notification to all of your affected employees before starting the new program. You may also want to consider some onboarding and training in the use of your new MFA before the program goes live. That way you’ll have fewer implementation hiccups to overcome.

TSI Multi-Factor Authentication

If you’re looking for a streamlined, common-sense MFA for your company, you may want to consider TSI’s cybersecurity services. TSI can get MFA up and running in as little as ten minutes. That means less time spent on the phone, and no more waiting days or weeks to get a new system up and running once you’ve decided on the right option for you.

Ten minutes after your company gives the green light to move forward, your company’s cybersecurity will be significantly stronger.  Give us a call today to see how TSI can help you get MFA up and running for your business.

 

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