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In case you aren’t aware of this already, resend data indicates that 81% of security breaches are due to weak or stolen passwords. Improper password hygiene and human error continues to haunt organizations better looking to stem the increasing tide of data breaches. Even with stringent password policies in place, organizations are finding it increasingly hard to contain data breaches. The problem is that users may create the most complicated passwords they can think of and still be at risk for a data breach if the website fails to store the password securely. Also, people are prone to fall for the increasingly sophisticated social engineering tactics that hackers are using to steal credentials. This could include phishing emails that look like they are from genuine senders (including your friend, call worker, boss, or simply a business acquaintance who you deal with regularly), spoofed websites that look exactly like the original (often widely trusted site) or voice calls where the caller pretends to be an associate from your bank or an organization you deal with regularly.

Sounds disturbing? The solution, fortunately, is a simple one. Using two-factor authentication, or 2FA has been proven to be effective in blocking 99.9% of automated attacks according to a 2019 report from Microsoft. If there is a choice between services where one offers multi-factor authentication and the other doesn’t – always opt for one that supports authentication, even if it’s a simple SMS-based authentication check. The efficacy of 2FA authentication is borne out by its rising popularity. In 2019, the Advanced Authentication Market in the U.S was valued at $9.75 billion, and by 2025, that number is expected to balloon up to $20.73 billion, an increase of over 112 percent. Managed IT Services Vermont offer support for implementing 2FA authentication at your organization.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a method of verification to secure access to an online account or computer system through user confirmation with two different types of information. This is for the system to determine whether you are actually the person you are claiming to be – the authorized user. A simple example of authentication can also be found in making use of username/password pair along with text or email or on-device verification.

As passwords become more and more fragile, thanks to the prevalence of data breaches and continued weak password practices, two-factor authentication is quickly becoming the standard in the digital world. According to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of online adults have used 2FA on their accounts, which accounts for 59 percent of online adults ages 30 to 49, 53 percent of online adults ages 18 to 29, 49 percent of online adults ages 50 to 64 and 38 percent of online adults 65 and older. On the flipside though, only 26% of companies use multi-factor authentication. IT Support Vermont can help your company stay ahead of the curve by deploying multi-factor authentication.

How does two-factor authentication work?

Text Message

Two-factor authentication that makes use of text messages typically sends a login code to the registered user mobile number associated with that account. While this form of authentication is very straightforward and popular with users, it is not entirely free from risks. For instance, it is quite possible for someone to impersonate the user to the phone company, gain access to your phone by stealing or hijacking it, and gain illicit access to your accounts. Organizations should be cognizant of these risks and try not to use an employee’s personal number for verification as this leaves the company-wide open to attacks should the employee turn out to be an insider threat, lose access to the device/ service or, otherwise compromised. Using dedicated corporate phone lines is a much safer bet.

Authentication Applications

The authentication app 2FA method works through using a mobile application to generate a login code. In this method of authentication, the user doesn’t need access to a wireless network. It’s enough to have an Internet connection for accessing the account. Authentication apps like Google often offer multiple backup codes in case of connectivity problems.

Biometric Two-factor Authentication

As the name suggests, Biometric 2FA works on the basis of biometric verification, such as retina scans using the device’s camera, or fingerprint access. While this method is hugely popular, biometric data theft poses a significant cause for concern. The problem is that while stolen passwords can be changed, your biometric data cannot be altered and may result in a permanent compromise.

How does 2FA make companies more secure?

Using additional authentication factors can prevent malicious actors from gaining access to your accounts even if they managed to breach the system or compromise the user to know the password. If authentication requires both a password and biometric data or a USB token with a digital certificate on it – the hacker is less likely to be able to secure access to the account without being in possession of both. Moreover, the failed unauthorized access attempt will also trigger a security event that alerts both the user and system admins about the suspicious login attempt.

How do I know which services support 2FA?

If you’re unsure about 2FA support of a specific service, you can always check an open source information repository called the Two Factor Auth List. Common services that offer 2FA support include Google accounts (both consumer Gmail and business GSuite accounts), all Microsoft accounts (including the free accounts used with Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype, and other consumer services), the Azure Active Directory accounts used with Microsoft’s business and enterprise services (including Microsoft 365 and Office 365) and more. 2FA support is also extensively in use among social media services (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more). All reputable online storage services support 2FA, along with most domain registrars and web hosting companies. To know more about reliable service providers that support two-factor authentication and deploying two-factor authentication in your organization, please contact IT Outsourcing Vermont.

Mary Loyer

Mary Loyer

Mary is responsible for management and maintenance of an adequate system of accounting, monitoring internal controlls, financial reporting, payroll and tax compliance. Mary operates her own business of 13 years as a QuickBooks Proadvisor Consultant/Bookkeeper and worked previously for 7 years with a CPA firm as their QuickBooks Advisor. A graduate of Champlain College, she has extensive accounting background, taught training seminars on QuickBooks and a course for Small Business Development. Mary enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, camping, outdoor activities, live music and walking their dog. She volunteers as a mentor with the South Burlington School Mentoring Program for 6 years and continues to enjoy this special time weekly.