Is Multi Factor Authentication Right for You and Your Customers?
I meet and consult with IT providers regularly about their security needs. This is what I’ve learned. Every IT service professional is essentially looking for the same thing: a smart and effective password security software solution that will protect their clients and make their lives easier.
After all, how many hours a week or month are wasted on unnecessary authentication-related issues like password resets? And how many businesses truly feel confident with their password security systems? Being able to provide your clients with a strong password security solution is a real win-win; your clients will appreciate having a secure system that they can trust—and in return, they’ll appreciate and trust you.
One password security solution you’re likely to hear and be asked about is multi-factor authentication.
What are the benefits of multi-factor authentication?
Multi factor authentication requires users to present two or more authentication “factors” before they are granted access to a system. The three authentication factors are: knowledge (something you know), possession (something you have), and inherence (something you are). Today, many businesses still depend on single-factor authentication, using only the knowledge factor (passwords), to keep their systems safe. But with recent phishing and security attacks making headlines, more businesses are turning to multi-factor authentication to streamline and strengthen their security processes.
With multi-factor authentication, security is strengthened because users are required to enter not only a password, but also another authentication factor—something that would be much harder for hackers to steal. Some companies opt for the “inherence” factor (something you are) by identifying authorized users using a biometric scan of a fingerprint or iris. Most, however, opt for the more cost-effective “possession” factor. Users provide proof that they “have” a one-time code generated from a handheld token keychain, secure mobile app, or other one-time code solution.
Why multi-factor authentication makes life easier
While multi-factor authentication may sound more complicated than using old-fashioned passwords, it can actually greatly simplify security processes for businesses and organizations. The enhanced security that multi-factor authentication offers allows businesses to use more advanced password security options like single sign-on.
With single sign-on, a user first validates using multi-factor authentication. Once their credentials have been accepted, they are signed into their single sign-on software and from there can access all of their needed applications and programs without having to enter passwords or other credentials for the rest of the day (or other specified period of time). This is a huge time-saver for businesses of all sizes.
I’ve helped many businesses switch over to single sign-on, and the feedback is always extremely positive. Employees are excited not to have to remember dozens of different passwords, and employers are happy to see less time being spent on login screens and password reset requests.
Finding the right multi-factor authentication system and educating your clients about it may seem like a challenge, but it’s an investment in their success as well as yours. Multi-factor authentication is expected to become standard in the near future (Google and Facebook are already offering it as a security option). Implementing it now may help you avoid a security disaster and keep you and your clients one wise step ahead.