2FA: What It Is and Why You Need It for Your Business
Logging in with a password isn’t enough. 2FA is like a secret code to deter hackers. Discover why 2FA is a necessary addition to your security protocols.
With all the news headlines about corporate data breaches and social media account hacks, you may have concluded that, when logging into any online account, a password isn’t enough. This is especially true for companies with a remote workforce, as employees are likely to be accessing the network from multiple mobile devices. To add an extra layer of security to your system, consider two-factor authentication, also called 2FA or two-step verification.
What Is Two-Factor Authentication?
Since hackers can figure out employees’ passwords in as few as six hours, a second step is needed so users can verify that they are, in fact, who they say they are when logging into online accounts and accessing employer networks. While cyberattackers may be extremely adept at cracking employees’ regular passwords, they’re considerably less capable of decoding the second element of authentication.
Two-factor authentication usually includes the following:
- something you have (cellphone or hardware token)
- something you are (biometrics)
- something you know (often a password)
In most cases, the second layer of authentication is a one-time password (OTP).
Two-factor authentication is especially important for applications that your employers use to assist them on the job. These include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- Communication apps
- Cloud-storage accounts
- Password-management tools
- Productivity apps
In order to turn on 2FA, however, you need to make sure the site you’re using supports it.
There’s No “One Way” to Do 2FA
Businesses with a remote workforce may customize authentication settings according to employees’ log-in patterns. If workers are logging in from a familiar location, using a company device, entering only a password may be adequate. If, however, they are accessing the company network on a new device or from an unfamiliar location, they can be required to provide two-step verification.
Additionally, receiving OTPs via text isn’t the only way to verify your identity. An authentication app is an easier solution if you want to activate 2FA on more than one account. These apps generate a 6-digit code that typically expires in 30 seconds. Instead of an OTP, you can opt to log in with a fingerprint or retina scan.
Why Your Workforce Needs 2FA
Two-step authentication provides a host of benefits to your business. Besides allowing your team to securely log in from their device of choice, it provides protections that other security protocols do not. Security questions, for instance, are not as safe as you might think. The answers users provide are often surprisingly easy to figure out.
While most people associate data breaches with large corporations, cybercriminals target businesses of all sizes. in fact, more than half of small businesses reported being victimized in the last year. Even if you’ve fortified your network with anti-virus software and firewalls, your system is still vulnerable to password-theft, especially when employees log in off-site.
Another security concern arises when employees use the same password for multiple accounts. Data becomes even more vulnerable when the passwords used to access it are weak. Two-factor authentication provides a “secret code” that affords needed protection against password shortcomings.
If you’re concerned about introducing your remote workers to a new security protocol, 2FA is easier to use than you might think. If your staff has experience with online shopping and social media, then they’ve likely already encountered some form of multi-factor authentication. Therefore, they shouldn’t have much difficulty with two-step verification at work, especially since it doesn’t require them to create (and memorize) additional passwords.
As the novel coronavirus disrupts business as usual, hackers are taking advantage of this opportunity to fine-tune their tactics to access data. As you seek solutions to support a remote workforce, implementing practical security measures will enable you to focus on other aspects of running your business, without worrying about data loss. A reputable IT company can help you locate the tools and resources to keep operations as streamlined as possible.
I am an IT professional with a broad depth of knowledge and experience as an IT planning consultant, with previous experience as a network engineer. I have 14+ years in the industry providing sustainable technology solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. I personally thrive on making systems more efficient and I am continually interested in ways to innovate using technology applications. I enjoy working closely with colleagues and clients to collaborate and provide a best fit solution for all IT-related needs. More recently I have assisted my workplace with an implementation of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) in the “Integrator” role, where I have assisted with optimizing company operations and improving cross-departmental functional systems.