Two-factor authentication (2-FA) offers a robust solution for protecting your company from password-based breaches and cyberattacks, but it’s also an effective way to achieve and maintain compliance in highly regulated industries such as health care and finance. In fact, insurers increasingly require 2-FA implementation before granting businesses their cyber insurance policies.
The reason insurers and regulators are so keen on 2-FA is that recent studies show they can reduce system incursions by up to 99%. The only real drawback to multi-factor authentication solutions is the act of balancing between user convenience and security.
In this article, we explore the ins and out of two-factor authentication before touching on how the solution can help you become more compliant with some common government regulations.
What is two-factor authentication (2-FA)
At this stage, most internet users have been exposed to some form of 2-FA. Essentially, it’s an authentication method that uses more than one factor to verify users before granting access to a specified application or cloud service.
In years past, most user verification methods rely solely on one authenticating factor -usually a password. Two-factor authentication, sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication, introduces at least one additional identifier that only the user can present, such as biometrics or a physical asset.
While passwords and answers to the security questions might seem like effective authenticators in their own right, they still represent details virtually any committed threat actor could access to wage an attack on your digital environment.
2-FA introduces other factors, namely physical such as tokens, certificates, and USB devices. The user must be in possession of the designated asset before signing in to your applications. Biometric login features and keystrokes, on the other hand, provide optimal security because only the authorized user can replicate them.
Two-factor authentication is ultimately more secure than passwords and security questions because it imposes an additional layer of protection that’s often difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce by anyone other than the authorized user.
Given that passwords are so easily hacked and frequently never changed from their default settings, it’s understandable why insurers and regulators encourage regulated industries to adapt multiple authentication factors at their various endpoints.
5 common compliance standards and how 2-FA helps you adhere to them
Government regulatory agencies want to ensure that the consumers they set out to protect aren’t subject to data breaches that could be otherwise prevented by the companies handling their confidential materials.
2-FA imposes additional authenticating factors to secure both user credentials and the business data and resources your employees are authorized to access. Using multiple authenticating factors is among the most cost-effective and practical ways to remain compliant with the following regulations:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA was enacted to protect the privacy of patients who relinquish their private medical data to healthcare providers.
Deploying dual authenticating factors helps businesses operating in the healthcare sector remain compliant by adding an additional layer of security at their endpoints, ensuring that criminal hackers can’t crack company passwords to launch an attack or steal sensitive customer information.
2. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
The payment card industry data security standard (PCI-DSS) establishes protocols for businesses handling credit card information. The regulation aims to reduce the incidences of breaches that contribute to identity theft and credit card fraud.
PCI-DSS provides requirements for changing default passwords and granting authorized access. Both of these protocols can be facilitated and enforced through your 2-FA solution.
3. Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2)
SOC was established to enforce the secure and safe management of sensitive consumer data. Companies regularly handling these materials deploy 2-FA to ensure they are SOC 2 and can effectively protect and secure customer information from a password-based breach.
4. The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GBLA)
Multi-factor authentication serves a vital function in Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act compliance, an act designed to protect the privacy of customers’ financial information.
The legislation requires financial institutions to put in place procedures that secure and protect customer data, including the use of two-factor authentication.
Here, regulatory compliance necessitates multiple authentication factors, such as a username and password, biometric data, or a physical token, in order to access business accounts. Implementing 2FA authentication ensures compliance and that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive consumer data.
4. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
Multi-factor authentication assumes an equally important role in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or SOX. This regulation commands businesses to establish and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. Multi-factor authentication is among the key components of such internal control, as it helps ensure that only authorized individuals are able to access confidential financial and other sensitive data.
Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence, or factors, to verify their identity. These factors typically include information that only the user should know, like a password or pin, an asset that the user possesses (a token, phone, or USB, for example), or something that uniquely identifies authorized users, such as biometric features.
Multi-factor authentication helps organizations meet their SOX compliance requirements by providing an additional layer of security and preventing unauthorized access to confidential information.
Stay on top of regulatory compliance with 2-FA
Multi-factor authentication is a critical tool for maintaining regulatory compliance. Providing these additional layers of security helps organizations protect their data, systems, and networks from unauthorized access.
Implementing multiple authenticating factors strengthens regulatory compliance while helping businesses adhere to several common industry regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA, both of which require organizations to protect data and systems from unauthorized access.
If you’re just now exploring your options for implementing 2-FA or need a comprehensive risk analysis on the strength and effectiveness of your existing solution, reach out to the team of cybersecurity experts at PCH Technologies by dialing (856) 754-7500 or book your free discovery call with us online now.