Without multi-factor authentication, there is an exponentially higher risk of a Microsoft 365 data breach. If your organization doesn’t use MFA already, it’s time to come up with an implementation plan to protect your important company data. In fact, Microsoft states that MFA makes your accounts 99.9% less likely to be compromised.
Microsoft engineers recommend disabling legacy authentication protocols. Doing so results in a 67% reduction of breaches. Multi-factor authentication adds multiple layers to the credentials required to access an account. You can implement it via SMS, but the most effective solutions include hardware-based tokens. Attackers target protocols such as SMTP and POP and SMTP, which do not support multi-factor authentication.
Philadelphia IT Support specialist Krystal Triumph with Atlantic-IT.net shares her insights into the world of multi-factor authentication and Microsoft 365.
How Does MFA Work?
When users log into an MFA-protected account, they have to enter a password plus a generated code. Sometimes, login is authorized by pushing a request to another device such as a mobile phone. If the password becomes compromised, the account is still protected since hackers will not have access to the secondary requirement.
Here are some of the options for creating an MFA code:
- Text message
- Dedicated authenticator application
- A physical device on which to push a verification button
Another advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it allows you to prolong your use of a particular password. This gives you time to change your password if your service provider is compromised.
Why Should You Use MFA?
The main reasons to use multi-factor authentication include enhanced security, legal compliance, and increased productivity.
The more factors in an authentication strategy, the more secure your system becomes. This applies to company systems and user accounts.
If a hacker steals your password due to a data breach, phishing, or other means, they still can’t log into your account if you have MFA enabled. Let’s say someone manages to steal your password to your social media account. When they try to log in, you receive an SMS text on your phone that has a verification code. Without this code, the hacker cannot log in. It will also alert you that someone has hacked your account So you can change your passwords.
For companies and other organizations, multi-factor authentication reduces the risk of unauthorized access to the company’s network that holds the sensitive company and customer data.
Apart from data encryption, there are now federal and state laws that require companies to have multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive data. This includes financial details and personal identification information about employees and customers. Even if the law doesn’t specifically require MFA, it still underscores the need for strong authentication strategies. So far, multi-factor authentication is the most robust way to protect your accounts and systems.
Choose the right authentication factors for your specific situation. Voice calls and SMS are susceptible to interception. A hardware device offers physical protection against hacking attempts. Unless a hacker gets hold of the device, they cannot use your credentials. This works much like having a key to open the door or opening your car with remote control.
Implementing MFA in your organization might seem like a difficult task. Employees have to log in to multiple accounts. However, multi-factor authentication combined with single sign-on makes the login process easier. The user identity goes through MFA and then gives you access to all applications covered by single sign-on protocols. This means you don’t have to log in to each application.
MFA can protect your accounts from phishing attempts that try to trick you into revealing your credentials via email. It also prevents your accounts from hacking aimed at the company network.