What is Multi-Factor Authentication, and Does Your Small Business Need it?

what is multi-factor authentication

Data security has never been more important than it is right now. Skilled cybercriminals can infiltrate anything connected to the Internet. This doesn’t just include your computer, but your home’s smart doorbell, the office Wi-Fi printer, and even cloud storage. However, you don’t need to fret or worry, just as long as you take cyber security seriously. While Charlotte IT Solutions is here to assist you with setting up security measures to protect your business, there are steps you can take on your own to better safeguard your own personal data and your company’s. One of the best ways to do this is with what is known as multi-factor authentication. What is multifactor authentication? Here is what you need to know and how it can prove helpful in elevating your level of protection while connected to the Internet.

Single-Factor Authentication

Just about every account you log into online requires a username and password. Whether it is your social media account, email, video conferencing software, or anything else, you need to type in a password and username to gain access to your account. This is your authentication. Or, in other words, single-factor authentication. You provided the basic information necessary to prove that you are you.

However, the problem with this is the information you provide can easily be obtained. Your username is already visible, so cyber criminals or even someone locally will already know this. From here, all they need to know is your password. Through data breaches, your password may have been leaked online. This is why it is important to use a unique password for every account (although most people don’t because they find it difficult to remember all the passwords and keep everything in order). Plus, with single-factor authentication, someone else can log in to your account, even with your permission. Whether this is an employee logging into work from a remote location and having someone else sign on because they are running late, or even a student having a friend log them into class. So they are not marked absent in a remote learning setup, single-factor authentication leaves much to be desired.

What is Multifactor Authentication?

As you might guess, multifactor authentication requires several forms of identification to prove you are who you say you are. It’s similar to filling out a government document in person, where you need to provide your government-issued ID and something else with your photo and name (such as a passport). Multi-Factor authentication online requires you to provide this additional level of assurance, which makes it more difficult for someone else to hack into your account and reduces the chances of someone logging in for you.

So, while your username and password are likely still required, a secondary step (at least) in the authentication process is required. Sometimes this is simply referred to as two-step authentication. Of course, you do not need to stop at two. Maybe you want to have a three-step authentication process. It is your business, so it is up to you. Multifactor simply means there is more than one level of authentication.

Examples of Secondary Authentication

Technology has reached a point where it can rely on improved security measures rather easily. Take your fingerprint, for example. Most mobile phones now allow you to unlock the screen with a fingerprint scan. This can be used as a form of secondary authentication. Of course, this might only work for mobile devices and the handful of computers that have a fingerprint scanner. A retina or face scan can also be an option as well. Facial scans and fingerprints are far more difficult to steal than a password, and it is something that can’t easily be faked.

But what happens if everyone in your office does not have access to this kind of technology? That is okay, as there are other options available. Before the fingerprint scanner, many mobile phones required users to draw out a pattern on the screen to unlock it. This can be an option. Security questions can also be asked. When setting up certain accounts, such as your financial account, you might be asked to select certain security questions and answers, such as the name of your first pet or the first concert you went to. These are additional examples of secondary authentication. However, you will want to select questions and answers that are not widely known.

The problem with these kinds of secondary questions and answers is the information can more easily be stolen or obtained through data breaches than a fingerprint or retina scan. But don’t worry. If you are interested in setting up multi-factor authentication for your place of work, the staff at Charlotte IT Solutions is more than happy to help.

Upgrade Your Network Security Today

Your office network is only as safe as the weakest link. While most cybercriminals will look for an easy score, such as by attacking businesses that forego any kind of security measures, it doesn’t take much work for such an individual to sneak past your defenses if you are not careful. This means setting up tightly fitting blanket protection around everything connected to the Internet. Whether it is enhanced protection for a virtual network, the IoT you have running in the office, or computers being used at home, Charlotte IT Solutions is here to help set up a security system that fits your needs like a glove. So whether you’re interested in getting started with enhanced network security or you want to learn more about the services offered by Charlotte IT Solutions, all you need to do is give us a call or schedule a consultation.

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