User identification is one of the key aspects of IT security. If you don’t know who is using your systems or your network, it becomes much more difficult to detect suspicious activity. Worse, a lack of visibility will make it virtually impossible to hold anyone accountable in the event of a breach. For these reasons and more, multi-factor authentication is incredibly crucial for any network that is used for the transfer of sensitive business information.
Are Small Businesses At Greater Risk?
Multi-factor authentication is very important for any business network, regardless of its security level. Even if you don’t keep any highly sensitive data, there is still the possibility of a cybercriminal using ransomware to extort money from your company. Unfortunately, small businesses are at greater risk when compared to the average business.
Quite simply, small businesses cannot absorb the cost of a cyber-attack. Depending on their nature and extent, cyber attacks can cost a huge amount of money. This includes both cleanup/repair costs and any lost revenue resulting from business downtime. While a big multinational conglomerate could probably absorb those losses, small businesses tend to operate on a tighter budget. That is the number one reason why small businesses have a greater need for proper authentication procedures.
How Does Multi-Factor Authentication Work?
This is a simple idea that can be applied in many variations. A multi-factor authentication approach to identity verification has proven to be pretty effective. Instead of simply asking for one “authentication factor” like a password, multi-factor authentication uses a combination of methods. For instance, you have probably had to use your phone to receive an access code for the websites that you visit. That is another method of verification that can be combined with the rest.
The idea here is to make it as difficult as possible for someone to compromise your network or files. You do this by setting up as many obstacles as possible for them. Even if those obstacles don’t stop them in their tracks, they can buy crucial time for security monitoring teams to pick up a suspicious sign and act. The longer the attacker has to stay connected, the greater the chance that they will be caught. Forcing them to circumvent multiple forms of ID is an effective way to stop or delay such criminals.
The 5 Main Methods Of Identification
There are lots of ways to verify a person’s identity online, but some of them are more reliable than others. For this reason, there are five primary methods of identification that are more common than the rest. Your multi-factor authentication setup doesn’t necessarily need to use all five, so make that call based on the level of security that you require.
1. SMS Token Method
This is the one we discussed in the previous section. If the device that is attempting to log in isn’t recognized, an SMS token is generally used to verify the user’s identity through their phone. They send you a text message with a one-time code, which you input to confirm your identity. This one is very frequently used by social media sites to combat the use of bot accounts, so you’ve probably had to do this many times.
2. Email Token Method
This works pretty much the same way as option 1, except that it uses an email instead of a text message. Normally, you will just have to open the email and click on a link. By using links that will expire after a short time, you can keep those confirmation emails from getting hijacked.
3. Software Token Authentication
This one is less common but still handy. Instead of verifying your identity through email or SMS, you can use a piece of specialized authentication software. Obviously, you will have to conclusively identify yourself when you download and install such software. However, once that is done, you can bypass most authentication measures with a single click. This one might be described as “pre-authentication.”
4. Security Questions
This might be the oldest of the methods on our list. You simply allow users to create security questions using information that wouldn’t be known by anyone else. It is best to use non-public information, so avoid the use of things like birthdays or anniversaries.
5. Biometric Identification
This is the most advanced and rigorous method, and most companies do not need to go this far. For small businesses, the technology investments required for biometric ID could be outside their price range. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, biometric ID uses things like fingerprints and retinal scans to directly identify a person through physical scanning.
One Major Breach Can Ruin A Small Business
We have talked a little bit about the financial losses that can come from a cyber attack. However, we should also talk about the long-term damage to a company’s reputation that can occur. There are companies that have never recovered from a data breach, as the loss of customer confidence can be devastating. Multi-factor authentication should always be used to reduce these risks.
If you are in need of a good Tampa IT support company, that problem is easy to solve. PCH Technologies can help you with multi-factor authentication setup or any other IT-related issue that you might have. If you would like to learn more, you can call PCH at (856) 754-7500.
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As of 2022, PCH Technologies has opened up a new location in Fort Lauderdale, FL in order to serve the South Florida Market. This expansion into the South Florida market aligns strategically with our plans to continue to grow a national presence as a managed service provider (MSP).
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