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  • Writer's pictureSara Millis

How to set up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) safely across your business

Multi-factor authentication isn’t new, but it is fast proving to be a better security measure for businesses who move into the digital space. So if you haven’t rolled it out across your company, today’s blog post is for you.

We’ll discover why MFA is proving popular, how it works and how to develop your business protocol for adoption.

Lady adding multi-factor-authentication to her laptop

Why setting up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is essential for your business

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide multiple verification factors to access an account or system. Most accounts or online systems will ask you to set up this specific security measure. And that’s because it is less vulnerable to attack.

So how does it work? MFA authentication passcodes usually combine two things only the user knows (e.g., password) with something they have (e.g., smartphone or security key) or something they are (e.g., biometrics). When users passes these proof stages, they gain entry to the account or system they are trying to access.

MFAs are essential for several reasons:

  • Protection against password-related attacks - Many security breaches occur due to weak or compromised passwords. MFA authentication mitigates the risks associated with password-related attacks, such as phishing or password cracking. This is because the cybercriminal needs more than one identity data point to gain entry to an account.

  • Safeguarding your critical systems and sensitive data - These accounts often have higher access privileges and are attractive targets for attackers. Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of defence to prevent unauthorised access.

  • Legal and regulatory compliance requirements - Many regulatory frameworks and industry standards now mandate using MFA. A business-wide protocol can help your business meet compliance requirements and avoid penalties. Examples of regulations that insist on multi-factor authentication include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs the use of personal data.

  • Mobile workforce and remote access - Hybrid working models are a constant now, and with employees needing access to business systems and data across devices and locations, it makes sense to think about data safety.

  • Mitigating human error - Unfortunately, there will be times when employees make mistakes. Unintentionally sharing passwords or falling victim to social engineering attacks can be a problem for unprotected data systems. Having an additional authentication factor required by MFA acts as a safety net.

Now we understand what Multi-factor authentication is; it's time to think about how to set up a protocol for authentication across your business.

How to create your business’s Multi-Factor Authentication protocol

Setting up multi-factor authentication (MFA) across your business can significantly enhance the security of your systems and protect sensitive information. To do it well, you’ll need to make some considerations.

Here’s our handy guide on how to do that.

Assess your business needs

Determine which systems, applications, or platforms in your business require an extra layer of security through MFA. Making sure your business’s critical systems are protected as standard. These include email, VPN, financial software and administrative consoles.

Choose a business-wide MFA method

There are several types of MFA methods available, including:

  • SMS-based verification - Users receive a one-time verification code via text to their registered phone number.

  • Authenticator apps - Users install an MFA app like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator on their mobile devices, generating time-based one-time passwords (TOTP).

  • Hardware tokens - Physical devices like USB keys or smart cards generate verification codes.

  • Biometric authentication - Devices with biometric capabilities, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.

Before considering cost, you base your choice on security and adoption likeness. That will protect your business data, and staff use the process effectively.

Establish MFA policies and guidelines

Develop comprehensive MFA policies that outline the requirements and procedures for enabling and using MFA within your business. This includes guidelines on password strength, device management, and security concerns reporting.

Make sure you look back at your last cyber-security audit to understand where you currently stand on security policy. You will need to make an update and communicate this to staff.

Implement MFA on individual accounts

Once you've chosen the MFA method, enable it for all individual user accounts. This typically involves the following steps:

  • Communicate with your employees

  • User enrollment and training

  • Test and troubleshoot issues

Monitor and manage your protocol

Keep track of potential security threats or incidents and promptly address any vulnerabilities or concerns.

Questions? Here are a few of the common questions we get asked about business MFA security.

General MFA for business FAQs

Q: Can MFA be bypassed or hacked?

While no security measure is entirely foolproof, MFA significantly strengthens account security and makes it substantially more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorised access. MFA is designed to mitigate common attack vectors like password theft or phishing attempts. However, it's important to stay vigilant, choose strong, unique passwords, and keep your devices secure.

Q: How can I enforce MFA for my business?

Enforcing MFA typically involves implementing a centralised identity and access management solution that supports MFA. Microsoft Azure Active Directory is an example.

Q: Are there any challenges associated with implementing MFA?

While MFA provides enhanced security, it can introduce some challenges in adoption, integration and cost.

It's crucial to provide clear instructions, educate users about the benefits, and offer support during the transition.

You should also understand where you need additional development or configuration work.

Finally, depending on the chosen MFA method and solution, there may be associated costs, such as hardware tokens or subscription fees.

Q: Should MFA be used for all user accounts?

Implementing MFA for all user accounts is highly recommended. This includes employee accounts, privileged accounts, and accounts with access to sensitive data or critical systems.

Comprehensive MFA coverage ensures maximum protection against unauthorised access and strengthens overall security posture.

Need a reliable IT support partner to roll out your Multi-Factor Authentication programme?

Our London-based IT Support experts are on hand to assess your current security, create your MFA protocol and roll it out across all systems and devices. We can even train your staff!

Contact Eric at It Soho today to book your consultation.

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