We all know that multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a proactive measure that put in place to verify a user’s identity after entering a username and password. A survey conducted by LogMeIn reveals that the number of companies implementing multi-factor authentication is on the rise, with 57% of business organizations choosing MFA in 2018 as compared to 45% in 2017.
Organizations face ever-increasing cyber threats but, securing password security remains a top priority. Employees usually do not use robust password protocols or MFA to protect their valuable information. It is also found that 94% of the employees pick a smartphone for MFA, while only 4% opted for a hardware-based solution and 1% desired for biometrics. The availability of smartphones sets the trend as compared to the rest of the options.
The Verizon Data Breach Investigative Report for 2017 reveals, 81% of data breaches resulted because of weak and compromised credentials. Keeping your organization secure in this digital age requires to take several measures. But, at some point, they start using valid passwords. You can even use every kind of antivirus software or firewall, but someone needs to choose a password that’s going to be a secure one. However, if your password doesn’t include MFA, that password isn’t reliable at all.
With time, passwords and password encryption methods have become complicated, but still, hackers find a way to break them. Even a VPN- which is great for security and privacy is not reliable if MFA isn’t deployed on it. Passwords have been responsible for 81% of data breaches in the past few years. The computer system remains unaware when a hacker steals a password, and it grants access to anybody who enters the correct one. The lack of authenticity of identity is an obvious flaw in passwords which causes billions of loss to an organization.
Not able to prove your identity with a password is one thing, but additionally, business organizations can not always monitor their staff and ensure that they are following the best practice. Most of the employees either use the same or similar passwords for all accounts. This is extremely alarming for the business. Deploying MFA has become essential in today’s age. Not using MFA exposes you to severe cyber-attacks.
In this post, we’ll be discussing the possible risks of not using multi-factor authentication. Later in the post, the best practices of MFA will also be highlighted. So, now let’s read on.
Most Common Attacks Types for Not Implementing MFA
Not implementing MFA can result in several attacks. These sophisticated attacks can result in the users’ account information being posted and later sold on the dark web. The most common attacks that occur due to the absence of MFA are as follows:
1. Brute Force Attack
The attackers use a program that generates a possible combination of usernames and passwords until one works. While, in a reverse brute-force attack, hackers try common passwords with several unique usernames on different sites until they have access to an account. The prime intention of the hacker behind this attack is to gain illegal access towards a targeted website and uses it in either implementing another kind of attack, steal valuable data, and even shut it down. It is possible that the attacker infects the targeted site with a malicious script for long term objectives without causing any harm and leaving no traces behind.
2. Credential Stuffing
It is a technique of brute-force attacks, which is one of the most common methods by which cyber-criminals steal usernames and passwords. Credential stuffing is the preset use of collected passwords and usernames to gain fake access to user accounts. When the attacker has found a successful combination of username and password, they attempt to use that information on different websites assuming that the user has the same username and password on a variety of apps and websites.
The attack is launched through botnets and other automated tools that support the use of proxies that distribute the no-good requests across the IP addresses. Moreover, the hacker configures their devices to impersonate illegal user agents.
In such attacks, the attacker installs software onto the user’s computer through a virus that tracks keystrokes on the victim’s computer. It includes the website the user visits along with passwords and usernames. Based on what they do while the software is on their computer could also include answers to all security questions.
4. Man-In-the-Middle Attacks
This type of attack happens when the hacker inserts themselves in-between communication that the parties believe is private. For such attacks to work, the key is that the victims believe that they are talking directly to each other and the attacker isn’t caught. It can be between the users or a single user, and even an app or group of users. The hacker will interrupt the messages between the parties and send their message to collect private information.
In this attack, the attacker will email or make a call to a list of contacts with compelling messages along with a call to action that requires the receivers to provide their confidential information. The attacker can be disguised as a well-known business person asking you to confirm your transactions. Later, they will also offer you a fake link of a website that looks like to be a real one, asking you to enter your credentials such as username and password.
Spear phishing is similar to phishing, where the attacker targets a small group of individuals providing personal details to make the email look like the original. The email will be tailor-made to the receipt and includes their name along with a recent activity or an event to make it more believable.
How Multi-Factor Authentication Protect Against Cyber-Attacks?
The types of cyber-attacks discussed above depend on the attacker to find a combination of password and username that works to enter an account. By demanding additional information from the user, it makes it much more challenging to have your account getting hacked. MFA collects the other data from the user’s smartphone that is in their possession. It can be in the form of an authentication code sent to your face scan, fingerprint scan, phone, or security question. All these things are much more difficult to get than a username and secret code. Moreover, it will also notify you if anyone attempts to gain access to your account.
Best Practices of MFA
Multi-factor authentication has become a crucial security tool for data protection. The organizations are recommended to follow the following best practices for deploying MFA:
- Implement MFA everywhere. Partially implementing MFA within the organization does very little in protecting the essential apps and data.
- Continuously re-evaluate MFA. It means that verify that the deployment always meets the needs and demands of the organization and its users. Make necessary changes wherever possible and needed.
- Integrate MFA with SSO along with the least privilege access. By combining multiple levels of security, the risks of data being compromised become reduced.
- Provide a choice of different MFA methods. By offering users several options to select from, the user experience will become more favorable for diverse user populations.
- Use adaptive multi-factor authentication because it results not just in better security but also in improved user experience.
Combining Biometrics in MFA
To further strengthen the adoption of MFA solutions, combine it with biometrics technology. The most significant issue with passwords and tokens is that they can’t prove your identity while biometrics can do this work. Adding biometrics as an authentication factor is one of the best ways to confirm your identity because your biometrics are you. The identity-based access control is a great improvement over alternative authentication factors because you can’t forget or lose it, and they are also challenging to steal.
Biometrics makes accessing sensitive information and remote servers quite easy and effective. Mainly when you use smartphones to implement biometric authentication, it is easy and people who misunderstood MFA and complain about it do not have anything to complain about any other thing.
Many users are worried about protecting their biometrics. It is a valid concern, but if biometrics are appropriately deployed, it will boost personal and professional privacy. By using techniques such as visual cryptography and a distributed data model helps to ensure that your biometrics and sensitive information won’t go in the wrong hands. In this way, you can easily use the MFA solutions and can relax that your data is safe and protected.
Although passwords are always there to protect your digital assets, if you think that a single factor is enough to keep your data secured, then you’re at the wrong end. I hope the above discussion has given you a clear idea about the importance of MFA and the risks which it imposes if not implemented. MFA is affordable, efficient, and easy to use. Deploy it as soon as possible and ensure your online privacy and security.