Companies thrive when different parts of the business work together. Nowadays, digital tools have made collaborating with different business units easy. Employees can log on to the same system to share work, communicate, and generally do everything it takes to get tasks done. However, while integrating functionality into a single network improves operations, it also increases certain risks whenever employees log in.
Targeting business logins
Each employee’s business account offers them access to confidential information. In order for them to do their job correctly, employees have access to payment information, personal data, and other critical functions. If this information was ever used improperly, it could be detrimental to the business. That’s why cybercriminals target employee logins using various techniques. Some cybercriminals try to guess common passwords, search password dumps from previous data breaches, and even use phishing attacks to try and get passwords. .
Once a cybercriminal gains access to someone’s account, they can impersonate a legitimate user and access critical information for their own gain. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an effective way of enhancing protection and reducing the risk of using individual passwords.
What’s two-factor authentication (2FA)?
As the name suggests, 2FA increases security by adding a second layer of authentication. Generally, this second layer is not something the user knows (password) but is based on something they have, like their phone. The most common form of 2FA sends a notification to the user’s phone confirming their login or an SMS message with a one-time code that’s required to gain entry.
In the previous example, if someone was trying to break into an employee’s account they would need access to their phone as well as the password.
2FA is a relatively simple way of improving security and is therefore becoming a popular tool among users trying to protect their online accounts. It’s also becoming a crucial security measure for businesses wanting to secure high-privilege employee accounts in the face of rising cyberattacks.
Beyond network security and protecting against data breaches, 2FA offers a range of other business benefits.
Protecting business processes
2FA is fundamental to safeguarding business processes from internal and external threats. Approval workflows for example, which are the processes behind reviewing invoices and approving payments, by multiple employees are a good example of where 2FA can increase security. While approval workflows help businesses efficiently manage their accounts payable, and increase transparency across the organization, they also provide a number of employees access to sensitive information.
By using 2FA, businesses can protect their payment approval workflows, ensuring that only authorized employees can approve and make payments. This helps prevent unauthorized payments potentially used to defraud the company.
Reducing IT help requests
Forgotten passwords and account resets are among the most common IT help requests. With a quick and painless method of resetting passwords, 2FA removes the burden of customers and employees contacting the help desk to regain access to their accounts. This leads to significant time-saving benefits for IT departments. Instead of responding to password reset requests, staff can focus their energy on more important matters.
Beyond the primary security reasons, 2FA can lead to greater productivity among IT personnel. Offering a fast, cost-effective, and safe method for handling your company’s password issues.
Building secure business relationships
2FA shows customers and business partners that your company takes security seriously, going that extra mile to protect your users. This reassurance can build secure and trusted online relationships with them.
With identity theft and fraud only becoming a bigger problem online, 2FA offers a great way to protect access to your network. For cybersecurity-conscious customers and partners, it may even persuade them to choose your company over competitors.
Hybrid work models
The pandemic fundamentally changed the way we work, and many companies are still operating with remote or hybrid model. This means that employees log into critical business systems from less secure home Wi-Fi networks or wherever they happen to be working that day.
2FA offers greater protection so that employees can work where they choose to, as they have processes in place to identify them securely. Companies can be assured that if they provide a flexible work model their information is secure as employees will need to 2FA when logging in remotely.
Current 2FA methods
With the benefits clear in sight, how should your business implement 2FA? Here are some of the top options:
- Push notifications: The user receives a push notification on their corresponding device (phone, tablet, smartwatch, etc.) to confirm they are trying to sign in. Just be aware that this method does require an initial configuration process and the device to be connected to the internet.
- One-Time Password (OTP): The user inputs a time-sensitive code generated by an authenticating app.
- SMS: This OTP can also be sent using an SMS, simplifying the process and removing the need for an internet connection and a dedicated 2FA app.
- Biometrics: Utilizes a physical attribute of the user to verify their identity when logging in. This could be their face, fingerprint, or something else that can be quickly provided for authentication. While biometric 2FA is considered one of the strongest 2FA methods, it’s also expensive to implement, and some users have privacy concerns when offering their biometric information.
- Universal Second Factor (U2F): An open authentication standard allowing users to securely access their accounts using a specialized USB, NFC, or Bluetooth device. These devices use public key cryptography, enabling people to instantly access as many online services as they want without the need for additional software. It’s as simple as connecting their U2F device and pressing a single button.
2FA for your business
2FA is an excellent tool for businesses looking to add another layer of security to protect themselves from compromised accounts. Beyond the primary security benefits, there are other factors you should consider when implementing 2FA:
- Safeguarding internal processes and restricting access to only privileged users.
- Reducing time-consuming IT help requests from forgotten passwords.
- Demonstrating your commitment to security and building stronger business relationships.
- Offering employees the flexibility of remote work while maintaining secure network access.
With the rapid rise of cyberattacks, many consider the use of 2FA a no-brainer that will soon become the standard across multiple industries. While 2FA doesn’t guarantee that you won’t fall victim to a data breach, it does go a long way at ensuring the users on your network are who they claim they are.