Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the use of multiple factors to confirm the identity of someone who is requesting access to an application, website, or other company assets. Multi-factor authentication means more than 1, which can be either entering a password to gain access and entering a password plus a one-time password, or a password plus the answer to a security question.
By requiring more than one way for users to confirm their identity, multi-factor authentication provides greater assurance that they really are who they say they are, which reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your company’s private data.
Any combination of verification for your Checkpoint MFA qualifies as multi-factor authentication. It’s crucial that you protect yourself with MFA so your company’s data isn’t compromised.
Examples of MFA
Any one of these following methods can be used in addition to a username and password to achieve multi-factor authentication.
Biometrics: A form of authentication that relies on a user's unique features such as fingerprint, facial, or retina recognition.
Push Notification: A notification is sent to a user’s device that asks the user to approve an authentication request for access.
One-Time Passcode: An automatic generation of numbers that authenticates the user for one login process.
SMS Text: A notification sent to a user’s smartphone with a one-time passcode.
Hardware Token: A small, portable OPT-generating device similar to a keyfob.
Software Token: A token that exists as a software app on a smartphone rather than a physical token.
Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication has its benefits and should be considered a company asset rather than a burden. Here are a few ways that you can benefit from MFA:
- Improving Security: Multi-factor authentication improves security. Think of it as a mechanism that guards a point of access. Just a username and password is not enough to protect your accounts. With MFA installed, even if a hacker manages to steal your login credentials, they would still need access to that MFA method you have in place, which is never possible. By adding a second or even a third method of authentication, it makes it that much harder for a hacker to gain access to your account.
- Enabling digital initiatives: With more organizations wanting to deploy a remote workplace, and more consumers wanting to shop online, and more organizations moving data to the cloud, multi-factor authentication is a powerful tool to use in order to protect all of your remote access points. MFA can help in securing company, employee, and business data.
Risks That MFA Can Prevent
When following a remote working model, there will be risks that come with it. Implementing multi-factor authentication can help with that. One way to mitigate risks is by either stepping up or dialing down authentication requirements based on what's at stake.
- Risk posed by what’s being accessed. If someone requests digital access to a bank account, whether to initiate a money transfer, or to check their balance etc., a username and password may suffice however, multi-factor authentication should be enabled as you are accessing private and critical information.
- Risk posed by who’s requesting access. When a remote employee or contractor is requesting access to the corporate network from the same city and same device everyday, there is little to no reason to suspect that it’s not that person. However, the minute that the login comes in from a different location or device, then there is reason to believe that it’s not that person and an additional authentication method should be prompted in order to verify that it is the same user.
Drawbacks to MFA
While multi-factor authentication creates a more secure access environment, it can also create a less convenient one, which is the major drawback to MFA. No employee wants to spend extra time every day dealing with multiple authentication methods when trying to access company accounts.
The key is to find a cohesive balance between multi-factor authentication and convenience. But it’s up to the company to find the most secure solution that offers a seamless user experience. There isn’t a one size fits all MFA solution, and so you need to do your research and find the best one that works with your company’s infrastructure.