Given the digital world, we all find ourselves working within, enhancing security during online operations is vital.
There are more than 300 million fraudulent attempts to access Microsoft cloud services daily, showcasing just how big of an issue cyber threats continue to be. Weak or stolen passwords are estimated to cause 80% of data breaches, which is why implementing a secure, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) process for your business is so important.
Continue reading for our complete guide to setting up a strong MFA and to find out more reasons why your business needs to implement this essential layer of security in its operations.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?
Multi-Factor Authentication, otherwise known as MFA, is a security technique which requires several forms of verification to access sensitive data. You may also have heard of two-factor authentication or 2FA, which represents the same form of data security. MFAs are used for online platforms with sensitive data, including email accounts, social media profiles, website accounts, VPNs, and online banking.
The process of multiple authentications was invented in the 1980s by American company RSA which installed the practice in a key fob. Since then, it has continued to become the preferred method of protecting data and accounts, with the biggest technology companies and websites in the world adopting as their practice of choice.
MFA usually consists of the standard login details, an email address, username, and password, and then an additional verification form for the user. This could include a different email account, telephone call, or text message to the approved contact on your account. When setting up an MFA, you will be asked to add your preferred contact method, which cannot be changed at the login stage, which is the main reason the process is so secure.
Why Does Your Business Need to Use Multi-Factor Authentication?
The global Multi-Factor Authentication market is projected to be worth $34.467 billion by 2027. This highlights the growth in adoption that we expect to take place over the coming years by companies who are becoming more educated about how they can protect their business. The prevalence of MFAs is further enhanced by the fact that 30% of companies in the UK alone are still working a hybrid schedule.
With the new landscape of working life for employees offering a further security headache for companies, implementing MFAs is a no-brainer. Our other main reasons for adopting MFAs are the following:
Add an Extra Layer of Security
The purpose of an MFA is to implement additional security procedures that would be extremely hard to access unless you were the correct person for a particular account. This level of security takes away the risk of predictable passwords and pin codes being accessed, requiring the user to take control of their own accounts.
Allow Employees to Work More Confidently
Implementing clear and easy-to-follow MFA processes will also help the overall productivity of a business. With more than 50% of employees said to use their own devices for work purposes, the need to create secure access systems is even more critical.
If an employee is worried about security, their efficiency may be hampered. This will also put additional pressure on IT support teams, who will likely have a large influx of queries to work through. Giving your employees the tools, they need to work confidently will improve outputs and ensure a positive brand image and confident company culture.
MFA also gives users the option to reject suspicious sign-ins and accessing of data. This means that IT teams can be made aware of any issues and employees can be educated as to how they can stay protected when accessing company information. To support this, we offer user awareness training which teaches employees how to deal with threats, what strong MFAs mean and what processes to follow is a breach happens.
Meet Security Compliance Needs
Cyber security compliance will help your business run safely and provide other benefits, such as improving competitiveness, lowering insurance premiums, and mitigating risks.
MFAs are often included in most compliance regulations as they are the best way to protect data. Without this extra security level, companies could expose their sensitive data to malicious parties.
How Do You Set up the Microsoft 365 MFA?
Our Microsoft Office 365 services include full support in creating efficient MFAs to protect your cloud operations and company data. We can also offer support in setting up MFAs for other systems if you require.
Below are the steps you can follow to create a Multi-Factor Authentication using Microsoft 365:
- To start the process of setting up your MFA, you will need to sign into Microsoft 365 with your work or school account with your standard password. It should be noted that this is the first layer of security, so creating a strong password is essential. This should not contain personal information, numbers, or repeated sequences; otherwise, it could be easy to access.
Once you have signed in for the first time, you will see a pop-up that states ‘More information required’ which is the start of the MFA set-up or accessing process.
Select ‘Next’ to proceed past this stage.
- The default authentication method is to use the free Microsoft Authenticator app when accessing your Microsoft 365 account. This app offers a secure way to login to both mobile and desktop devices using your account. If you want to use the app, you will need to download the from either your android of iOS store to proceed and the link will be available on the page. Once downloaded, you will need to access using your normal login details.
In our experience, we recommend not using the app and selecting the SMS message option which can be accessed by clicking, ‘I want to set up a different method’. This is because we believe it is the safest way to share your sensitive details and have found from our experience that is offers the highest chance of success.
Once you enter your number, you will be sent a message with a 6-digit code to verify your device. This is time sensitive so do ensure your mobile is close to hand.
Please note that when you register for a MFA using a mobile number, you will be asked to also create an App password. To create this, you can enter a name you remember and then select the automatically provided password which is secure.
- The initial setup process only takes place once unless you are logged into your account already and need to update your MFA information.
When you next login, whether it is in the office or when working remotely, the verification process that was setup will be prompted allowing a simple and secure way to login.
If you are setting up a 2FA on any other platform, the process will likely be the same. You should always consider what the safest form of back-up technology would be and this should be written into any company IT policies.
What Rules Should You Follow When Setting up an MFA?
- Do not use any personal information to create passwords or pins that could be easily deciphered.
- Ensure that for employee access, the same MFA process is being followed.
- Phone numbers should be a company device in the first instance to further enhance security.
- Remember to update your MFA information if your contact devices change. This means the account will always be accessible to the right people.
- Ensure the information for accessing is never shared with anyone, even another employee. Should a data breach be successful, a clear line of events needs to be tracked back to the user to ensure that disaster recovery can be implemented in a timely manner.
How Can Creative Networks Help with Your MFA Needs?
As one of the best IT consultancy companies in the UK, Creative Networks have a proven track record of helping companies implement secure Multi-Factor Authentication systems for their teams.
Our catalogue of services highlight the wide range of security and compliance areas of expertise that our team have which covers all forms of MFAs. To find out more and start protecting your business, contact us today.