Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Mistakes to Watch Out For

There is a lot at stake in the financial services industry. Running a company in this sector is a huge responsibility, as it involves handling big clients, trusted employees, and sensitive company data around the clock. And in today’s digital age, data is considered the world’s most valuable resource.

If you work in finance, you know that data protection is vital for the sake of your investments and the company’s reputation. As such, more than having a cybersecurity solution integrated into the system, it’s essential to ensure you don’t make mistakes with its operation.

In case you’re looking to build or upgrade your business’s network security, one of the most common authentication solutions in the market is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Considered an added layer to your cybersecurity strategy, MFA systems are an excellent defense for your company against breaches when monitored and used correctly.

Can Multi-factor Authentication Get Hacked?

Cybercriminals find more ways to match and outsmart the advanced cybersecurity efforts of most organizations. Cybersecurity is always an arms race between securing systems from hackers and the creative lengths hackers go to in order to bypass those security measures. So while having MFA set up is an effective layer of security for your data, no system is 100% hack-proof.

With hackers always on the lookout for vulnerabilities, avoiding mistakes in configuration and management becomes a priority to support your MFA system.

Multi-factor Authentication Mistakes That Should Be Avoided

There is more to managing and maintaining an identity access and management solution than set it and forget it. Start making the most out of your solution and ensuring that your cybersecurity protocol is on high alert by steering clear from MFA mistakes. Here are a few common errors you need to watch out for:

1: Not making MFA implementation mandatory

As a player in an industry where data protection is imperative, you can make your first crucial slip in cybersecurity protocols by allowing multi-factor authentication implementation to be optional. Since MFA is an additional step in a login process, users can simply take the traditional route and use their passwords to access their accounts and data if not made compulsory. Many users are resistant to change and loathe to add additional steps to their login process, and will need cajoling or force to actively update their process.

It’s not enough that you have an adequate security system in place—you have to utilize it effectively, at all times, and in all scenarios. Cyberattacks don’t follow a schedule, so everyone has to be on top of their game as far as data protection is concerned.

2: Using MFA for select users and apps only

Only partially implementing multifactor authentication is just as bad as not making it obligatory.

While it’s true that executives work with a significant amount of sensitive information daily, their accounts are not the only ones in need of cybersecurity coverage. Don’t forget about your customers and employees who provide and handle data, however big or small. They, too, are potential targets for hackers.

Apart from having limited users, Stephen Banda, Senior Manager of Security Solutions at Lookout, thinks securing only some applications with MFA is a major oversight by companies. 

“MFA should be required for all apps because attackers can spot this vulnerability and seek to gain access with stolen credentials,” he shared. In other words, cover all grounds to avoid any gaps for breaches and avoid costly consequences.

3: Relying on SMS authentication

Utilizing SMS to authenticate login requests is pretty common, and even if it’s not the strongest option, it’s better to have it than nothing at all. However, by incorporating it into your multi-factor authentication system, keep in mind that with it comes several security loopholes you have to prepare for—including phishing, mobile hijacking, and SIM swapping, among others.

Aside from solely relying on MFA codes sent via text messages, explore authenticator apps such as Authy, Google Authenticator, and OTP to eliminate the risks of SMS-linked cyberattacks. Even better, leverage an out-of-band authentication tool, particularly one that uses an authentication factor that is hard to manipulate. Biometric authentication using a dedicated identity management tool or application can be a significant improvement in secure access.

4: Making the process more difficult

For those who aren’t tech-savvy, the switch from passwords to multi-factor authentication can be a bit overwhelming. But as a business, you have to make sure that your MFA system, although an extra step in access control, will not cause cyber fatigue (effectively giving up on guarding against cyber attacks) to its users.

Remember to rule out any friction that can ultimately lead to resistance in using the method. The goal is to implement a cybersecurity upgrade that will result in two key things: a more secure and a more seamless authentication process.

5: Not using MFA as a long-term security strategy

While multi-factor authentication makes the perfect reactive response to a cybersecurity breach, using it merely as a one-stop solution is a waste of time, money, and effort your business can’t afford.

In coming up with cybersecurity measures for your company, you want to think ahead. Create a proactive and holistic strategy for your MFA usage, deploy it to keep your data safe, and maintain it to defend against digital attacks in the long run. Setting up your MFA for easy upgrades or improvements is also a key component of a future-proof MFA implementation within a broader cybersecurity strategy.

6: Undervaluing the impact of MFA 

Adapting to the adjustments from shifting to multi-factor authentication doesn’t happen overnight. Like any other primary change in a company, setting up an MFA system can result in a long-term impact on your business. To prepare for it, you need to account for some key factors before the launch or update.

Take the time to list how MFA could significantly impact every user and their current workflow, and communicate these developments before implementation. Without proper advice on what to expect, a sudden switch to something as serious as accessing data can lead to instant resistance to adoption.

Strengthen Your Security Controls

Ultimately, multi-factor authentication has a lot of benefits to bring to the table. It can serve your business well as an added layer of protection against cyber attacks if appropriately utilized.

Want to learn more about identity access and management solutions? Partner with a team of experts in the field and find the best cybersecurity system to suit your business. Contact Q5id and schedule a demo today!

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