DDM 3/12/23. Multi-Factor Authentication Concept – MFA – Screen with Authentication Factors Surrounded by Digital Access and Identity Elements – Cybersecurity Solutions – 3D Illustration
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Digital security is a growing concern for business owners. We live in a post-pandemic era defined by data breaches and online threats that have only increased as everyone has adjusted to a remote-first work world. As digital threats continue to ramp up, you must take a proactive stance to keep your company’s data secure — starting with employee data and good digital ID management, such as multifactor authentication (MFA).
The need for better data security
Everyone living in the information age is aware of the importance of data security. Even so, sometimes it takes stepping back and considering the current state of the technologically-driven world to see how dire the need for data security has become.
That said, let’s consider a handful of statistics and stories from recent years. In 2020, the Texas tech company SolarWinds was hacked. As a result, 18,000 high-profile government and business entities had their data compromised.
The attack came just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to shut down the world. As a result of that global crisis, millions of individuals started to work remotely, and government initiatives set up unemployment relief for those who could not work from home.
While necessary, both developments set up even more digital threats. ID fraud siphoned billions of pandemic relief dollars from their intended recipients. In the meantime, the shift to remote work put a bullseye on remote workers and led to a huge uptick in phishing and ransomware attacks.
And then there was the infamous Colonial Pipeline debacle in early 2021. In April of that year, hackers shut down a critical pipeline, forcing a $5 million Bitcoin payment as a ransom to turn it back on. The event drew national attention — and was caused by nothing more than a weak password.
Multifactor authentication is the key to good digital ID management
One of the most important access points for a company’s data is its employees. This is due to two important factors.
First, the data that employees generate is often some of the most profitable information within a company’s digital data coffers. It can include bank accounts, social security numbers and even basic info like home addresses and phone numbers. These can all be used with terrible effect in the hands of the wrong person.
To make matters worse, individual employee data is an area that is more accessible than many other areas of a company’s data. Why? Because employees access your company’s programs from their own computers and remote locations.
This creates countless “gateways” or “weak links” that hackers can use to try to breach a system. In the Colonial Pipeline hack, it took one bad password on a single account to compromise the entire system.
It’s a danger that requires proactive digital ID management. Enter (MFA).
IdP (identity platform) Okta describes MFA as a blend of two distinct factors. The first is your username and password. This is data that you must remember in order to access important data. It can become compromised if it’s transferred to the wrong person.
The other half of MFA is something else — as in, literally, some other relevant factor that isn’t just a piece of information. Instead, it’s either something you have or something you are. This could be anything from a personal cellphone or another physical device, for a low-level password, to a fingerprint or iris scan for a more important circumstance.
MFA combines the traditional use of a username and password with the need to verify additional layers of security. This makes it much harder for someone to access your information. It has the potential to exponentially complicate the data acquisition process through multiple unique layers of extra identification.
The result of MFA is strong authentication that maintains a good user experience. It is a surprisingly simple solution that can adapt and grow over time.
Using digital ID management to enhance employee data security
The modern, tech-driven world is always in a state of change, flux, evolution — whatever you want to call it. This constant change requires security solutions that are resilient and able to handle initial attacks from hackers without breaking down.
The harsh truth is that leaders can’t just find a panacea to make the issue disappear. There isn’t a button you can push or a person you can pay to make the problem disappear forever.
Instead, leaders must find cybersecurity-focused companies and identity providers (idPs) that use solutions like MFA to stay ahead of the curve. The result is healthy digital ID management, which keeps employee data secure, creating a rock-solid foundation for company-wide cybersecurity, even in an ever-evolving workplace.
Rashan Dixon is a senior business consultant for Microsoft, an entrepreneur and a writer for various publications.
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