Multi-Factor Authentication – A Much Needed Safety Net Against Cyberattacks

2021 is the dawn of a new decade, with the new decade the Indian tech world is ready to witness a revolutionary change surrounding various factors, and one of the most important factors that are to undergo this change is ‘Cybersecurity’. This change is validated by the continuous emergence of reports on the increasing number of cyberattacks against India’s government agencies, private organizations, and individual users. According to a report by Kaspersky, India witnessed 36 million cyberattacks between January and November 2020, whereas the number of attacks in 2019 for the same months was 18 million. This only emphasizes the need for a better cybersecurity measure to be brought in to keep the data safe from cyberattacks. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one of the best ways to keep threat actors at bay.

In 2020, many organizations had to do a complete overhaul of their cybersecurity measures, a few other organizations had to rejig their security features, especially with remote working culture coming into the picture. All of this leads to one problem – IT Complexity. The best solution for IT administrators to provide easy safe access for employees who are remotely logging in. Using Array’s AG Series Secure Access Gateways organizations can provide tokenless, secure, and easy-to-use Multi-Factor Authentication. Through interoperability with 3rd party dual and MFA solutions, the AG Series adds a layer of defense against unauthorized access and misuse of data and applications. Using this, administrators can adapt the level of support needed using contextual information, such as login behavior patterns, geo-location, and type of login system being accessed.

Many a time threat actors find it easy to breach the security set up by IT administrators due to the loopholes that come into existence as a result of a complex cybersecurity setup. If MFA is provided at the user end, there will be additional security that will help the users prevent any sort of breach from their end. This will in turn help in avoiding identity theft, the use of stolen credentials, avoiding data breaches due to malicious attacks, and so on. While firewalls and antivirus solutions keep the systems safe via backdoor entry, it's MFA that guards the front doors.

As per Global Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) market report, the MFA market revenue which was $8,967 Mn in 2019 is estimated to reach $16,105 Mn in 2025, with a CAGR of 10.25% during 2020-2025, thus showcasing the opportunity and the demand MFA is set to rise in the next five years. This leads to the question of why now more than ever MFA is of importance. MFA is easy to implement and is considered an inexpensive security add-on by IT administrators. It is considered beneficial as it will enhance the organization's security by requiring users to identify themselves with more than a username and password. Using MFA an organization can achieve compliance, increase flexibility and productivity by bringing instability with streamlining the login process and it complies with Single Sign-On (SSO) solution. While providing cybersecurity is now a complex matter since the threats posed by the actors are equally proportional in complexity, a simple add-on such as Multi-Factor Authentication helps take users and organizations one step closer towards keeping the data safe.

What is the significance of multifactor authentication?

Traditional user ID and password logins have several flaws, one of which is that passwords may be readily hacked, possibly costing businesses millions of dollars. Bad actors can use automated password cracking programs to guess multiple combinations of usernames and passwords until they locate the appropriate sequence, making brute-force attacks a serious concern. While locking an account after a specific number of failed login attempts can help secure an organization, hackers have a variety of different ways to get access to the system. This is why multifactor authentication is crucial, as it can help to mitigate security concerns.

MFA's benefits and drawbacks

Multifactor authentication was implemented to increase the security of access to systems and applications by combining hardware and software. The purpose was to verify users' identities and ensure the security of their digital transactions. Users frequently forget the answers to the personal questions that authenticate their identity, and some users exchange personal ID tokens and passwords, which is a disadvantage of MFA. Other advantages and disadvantages of MFA exist.

Benefits of MFA

● It adds layers of security at the hardware, software, and personal ID
● It can use OTPs sent to phones that are randomly generated in real-time and
difficult to crack;
● Can reduce security breaches by up to 99.9% when compared to passwords alone
● This can easily be set up by users; allows businesses to restrict access
based on time of day or location; and also has a scalable cost because there
are multiple options.

Drawbacks of MFA

● To acquire a text message code, you'll need a phone.
● Hardware tokens can be misplaced or stolen.
● Phones can be misplaced or stolen.
● MFA algorithms' biometric data for personal IDs, such as thumbprints,
is not always correct and can result in false positives or negatives.
● If there is a network or internet outage, MFA verification may fail, and MFA
mechanisms must be regularly upgraded to guard against criminals who work
tirelessly to breach them.

Making MFA less difficult:

Adding security factors to MFA complicates things even more for users who have many passwords to remember. As a result, the purpose of MFA is to make MFA techniques more user-friendly. Here are three methods for making MFA easier to understand:

● MFA that adapts to the situation: This applies user-based parameters like device or location to knowledge, business rules, or regulations. A business VPN, for example, knows that a user can connect from home since it can observe the user's location and assess the risk of misuse or compromise. An employee who connects to the VPN from a coffee shop, on the other hand, will be prompted to input MFA credentials.

● SSO (single sign-on): It is a one-stop authentication solution that allows users to create a single account that automatically logs them into different apps or websites using a single ID and password. SSO works by establishing a user's identity and then sharing it with any applications or systems that need it.

● Push Authentication: This is an automated mobile device authentication mechanism in which the security system sends the user's mobile device a third, one-time identifying code. Users who wish to access a secured system, for example, input their user ID and password, and the security system sends their mobile device a third, one-time identification number. To obtain access, users must enter that code into the system. Push authentication makes MFA easier by supplying users with a third code that they don't have to memorize.