How to Avoid Common Multi-Factor Authentication Implementation Challenges

Nearly half of all cyber-attacks target small to medium sized businesses first, with the key entry point to major enterprises in being through third party mid-market companies that employ over 500 people.

Until now, a popular and more easily implementable method of preventing cyber-attacks has been two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA). But as cyber criminals’ methods grow more sophisticated, the requirement for more security in the form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) gains ground.

 What is multi-factor authentication?

The purpose of multi-factor authentication is to create more steps for a user to take to access sensitive information, to make it harder for hackers to exploit data systems. However, the art of a good MFA solution is to make it simple and easy for end-users.

Multi-factor authentication uses many of the authentication methods that are already common with 2-factor authentication. A username coupled with a password is one of the most common methods of user identification. Verification codes sent via email, SMS, or an entirely independent authentication app are often used as a second defence tier.

With MFA, you can add a number of authentication methods to the mix with the most common identity management option being adding in a token or mobile application sequence generating feature.

How to avoid common MFA adoption problems

If your organisation has decided that MFA is the right move, you may come across the following problems when implementing it in your organisation:

  1. Employee Adoption

Employees are keen to get their job done in the easiest way possible. A simple MFA solution that makes their tasks less complicated will be more successful than a complicated tiered approach. You can educate the importance of stringent cybersecurity measures but your non-technical employees aren’t going to use an MFA program that isn’t easy.

When it comes to cybersecurity, where a company’s employees are often considered their weakest link, it’s important to consider any multi-factor authentication program you might adopt needs to be designed with the end-user in mind first. Remember, if your employees don’t adhere to the security measures, they’re still going to be a weak link.  

  1. MFA programs are not cheap

Each employee will require access to the MFA program and costing can scale out. Luckily, it can be built into opex programs and heavily discounted via vendor negotiations, however, it can still be a good investment of time and money.

While the up-front cost of MFA may seem expensive, note that the average cost for a data breach for a mid-market organisation in Australia is $300,000 AUD per incident.

Working with a cybersecurity professional services company when going through your MFA journey will allow you to gain the best discounts on implementation and license transactions. Check out our Product team for more information on how Loop Secure can help you here.

  1. MFA still requires cyber resilience and strategy

At all the ends of the cybersecurity end-points, MFA still relies on a user having something in their possession or conducting an activity to be successful – thus is prone to human error. Part of a successful MFA strategy will account for end-user training, back-up solutions in the event the MFA device is unavailable and solutions for if a nifty employee manages to overcome the MFA in the quest for ease-of-use. Stay ahead of these problems by designing your MFA for a lazy employee and prepare for anything going wrong including at the expense of human error.

Takeaway: No security plan is perfect. Prepare as much as you can for when—not if— something will go wrong, including employee error.

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