MFA – how to protect yourself against cyber attacks

You hear about hacks all the time. The news covers major websites who have had data leaks containing users emails and passwords. Computers get infected and capture your login details for bank accounts and credit cards. In the worst cases, identity theft occurs because it is an easy crime to commit with a high reward.  There’s no getting around it: the password as we know it is dead. The information we keep online is too important to only safeguard with a single string of characters. Our security methods must evolve.

You now need a second line of defense (after your username and password combination) and now a critical tool you need in your armory is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Sometimes referred to as 2FA or multiple-step verification, MFA is a way to double check a person’s identity. This can be enabled every time a person logs in or just under certain circumstances. For example, signing in from a new device or different country might trigger MFA. It’s a cost-effective measure that protects against a wide range of modern cyber threats.  Let’s dig in to MFA; what is it, why it’s important and the benefits of adopting MFA.

What is MFA?

Multi Factor Authentication is sometimes called two factor authentication (2FA). In simple terms, it adds an extra layer of security to the online platforms you access. The first layer is generally a combination of a username and password. Adding one more step of authenticating your identity makes it harder for an attacker to access your data.

This drastically reduces the chances of fraud, data loss, or identity theft.

Most MFA systems are designed to ascertain one of three factors

  • Something you know,
  • something you have, or
  • some part of your body

The second layer could ask for the name of your cat, a secret code sent to your phone, or a fingerprint scan. Or, it can include combination of more than one or even all three of them. That’s the reason for calling it sometimes multiple factor authentication. Regardless of the nature of the second layer, it serves as a vital barrier to your account.

Why is MFA so Important?

Passwords have been the mainstream form of authentication since the start of the digital revolution. But, this security measure is far from safe. Here are some worrying facts about this traditional security measure:

  • 90% of passwords can be cracked in less than six hours.
  • Two-thirds of people use the same password everywhere.
  • Sophisticated cyber attackers have the power to test billions of passwords every second.

The vulnerability of passwords is the main reason for requiring and using MFA.

Rather than just asking for a username and password, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors, which decreases the likelihood of a successful cyber attack

The Benefits of implementing MFA

According to a recent article by Melanie Maynes, Senior Security Product Manager with Microsoft “By providing an extra barrier and layer of security that makes it incredibly difficult for attackers to get past, MFA can block over 99.9 percent of account compromise attacks. With MFA, knowing or cracking the password won’t be enough to gain access”

To find out how to implement MFA within your organisation contact one of the team.

Check out our previous article on Phishing Scams