How to Take Password Security Out of the Hands of Your Employees
In a business of any size, each employee has their designated tasks and responsibilities. An office assistant might be responsible for answering phones and filing. A salesperson might be responsible for generating and following up on new leads. An accountant might be responsible for handling all payroll and tax issues. But in most offices, there’s at least one responsibility that every single employee shares: using password security to protect the best interests of the business.
Most businesses today still use single-factor authentication (SFA) to protect their network and data, meaning their security depends entirely on passwords. One of the biggest risks with password-based SFA is that the security of your entire system (customer data, financial info, internal emails) depends on your employees. One weak link—like an employee who shares his password or uses an easily-hacked password for all his accounts (i.e. “password123”)—and your system could be compromised. This is one reason that many companies are switching to multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Password Security with Multi-Factor Authentication
In authentication security, there are currently three factors used: knowledge (something you know), possession (something you have), and inherence (something you are). Whereas SFA uses only one security factor (usually knowledge, via passwords) to authenticate users before providing them access to a network or application, MFA uses at least two (usually knowledge—a password—and possession, validated through the user entering a one-time code generated by a device that they have, like a secure mobile app on their phone).
Because of the enhanced security MFA provides (it’s nearly impossible for an outsider to attack an MFA-protected network; even if they attain the password, they won’t be able to enter the second needed factor), it also allows for more advanced password security options, like single sign-on (SSO). With good SSO software, users to sign into their SSO system using MFA and are taken to a web portal where they can then be automatically signed into their applications without needing to enter their passwords or credentials again until they are logged out. Using an SSO password management system, administrators can easily see who has what permissions, change and create passwords, and automate password resets and expirations. The headache of password security is eliminated, along with the “weak link” of human error.
Password management systems and SSO also allow employees to focus on what they do best: their jobs. No longer will they need to take valuable time from their workday to enter and re-enter login info and passwords, or ask IT for help with lost or reset passwords. Password security is enhanced, while productivity and morale is improved. It’s a win-win for any business looking to take control of their security and protection.