How Two-Factor Authentication Will Rock Your World: A Cybersecurity Game Changer


How Two-Factor Authentication Will Rock Your World: A Cybersecurity Game Changer

 

Think about all the accounts you have that require passwords: email, work systems, online shopping, smartphone apps, and social media - it adds up! Did you know that the average user has around 100 passwords? That’s way too many passwords for one person to remember! 

Since most people simply rely on memory to manage their passwords, it’s no surprise that easy-to-guess passwords like "123456," "password," and "qwerty" are the most commonly used ones globally. 

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Not only that, but 85% of Americans also reuse passwords for multiple accounts. This is a highly risky behavior, as one compromised password can be used to take over multiple accounts. Fortunately, most sites and platforms today have implemented requirements for passwords that cover at least a base level of good cybersecurity practices.

However passwords are not enough to keep your company's email systems, bank accounts, databases, and other online accounts secure. You need to further boost your IT security and your account login process by enabling a two-factor authentication (2FA) system.

What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

2FA is a security system that requires users to present two pieces of evidence, referred to as "factors”, to prove their identity before they are granted account access. The first factor is usually a password, while the second factor can be any of the following: 

  • Something you know – PIN code, answer to a security question
  • Something you have – one-time PIN generated by an authentication app, smart card, or token
  • Something you are – fingerprint or face scan

ATMs, for example, now require the use of 2FA. To withdraw from an ATM, an account holder must put their debit card (i.e., something you have) into the machine and then type in their PIN (i.e., something you know).

Why Should Businesses Leverage 2FA?

Aside from reducing the risks of poor password practices, there are many other reasons why businesses must enable 2FA.

Cybercriminals Target Passwords

Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report found that credentials are the most sought-after data type because cybercriminals can use these to masquerade as legitimate users on a system. In fact, according to another report by IBM, the use of stolen or compromised credentials is the top cause of data breaches. To make matters worse, over 15 billion stolen credentials collected from more than 100,000 breaches are on the dark web, primed for the taking. 

Cybercriminals steal passwords by employing various tactics, such as:

  • Phishing – tricking users into providing sensitive information
  • Keylogging – secretly recording keystrokes of users
  • Pharming – installing a malicious code onto a computer, which misdirects users to a fraudulent site in a bid to steal their personal data

Unfortunately, these tactics aren't just used to trick individuals but also huge corporations that collect, store, and manage their customers’ data.

 

Related reading: How hackers steal your passwords (and tips on managing passwords correctly)

 

2FA Minimizes the Risk of Security Breaches

With 2FA enabled, a cybercriminal that successfully obtains a user's credentials would still need to provide the second factor to complete the login process and access the account. 

This extra layer of security effectively blocks most attacks stemming from compromised accounts. That's why Google automatically enabled 2FA for their 150 million users in 2021, which resulted in a 50% decline in compromised accounts. Moreover, in the same year, 2FA was mandated for all federal agencies in the United States

Many Cyber Insurance Providers Require 2FA

Today’s businesses need cyber insurance to cushion the blow of ransomware attacks, hacking, data breaches, and all other cyberthreats. These policies usually cover the costs of the following items and activities: 

  • Ransom payment
  • Cybercrime investigation
  • System damage repair
  • Data recovery 
  • Customer notifications and reputation management
  • Third-party damages and settlements
  • Legal costs and penalties incurred resulting from compliance violations 

Given the growing prevalence of cyberattacks and the rising costs of resolving data breaches, many cybersecurity insurers now require organizations to implement specific security measures, like 2FA and security awareness training, before insurers provide coverage. For example, they require 2FA for the following IT assets:

  • Administrator access – to protect the admin account, which has special privileges like controlling access to all business and employee data in the network 
  • Remote email access – to protect all the information stored in emails and distributed around the company
  • Remote networks – to secure cloud access, which is especially crucial in the rise of remote work setups

Without 2FA, applicants won’t even receive a quote for cyber insurance, while existing clients risk nonrenewal or a retention hike of 100% or more.


Ready to get started with 2FA? Let the IT experts of Charles IT enable 2FA for you to ensure its smooth implementation. Get in touch with us today!

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