Multi-Factor Authentication Is Crucial For Organizations Running Microsoft 365
Organizations working with Microsoft 365 enjoy wide-reaching communication, productivity, and cost-cutting benefits. In terms of cybersecurity, the software giant keeps a keen eye on emerging threats to ensure it ranks among the most secure international markets.
Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to protect platform users, companies continue to fall victim to data breaches. The inherent problem doesn’t appear to be Microsoft’s fault. It appears organizations fail to implement seemingly simple measures to protect login profiles.
“There are over 300 million fraudulent sign-in attempts to our cloud services every day. Cyberattacks aren’t slowing down, and it’s worth noting that many attacks have been successful without the use of advanced technology,” Microsoft’s website states. “All it takes is one compromised credential or one legacy application to cause a data breach.”
It wasn’t long ago that cybersecurity professionals were touting two-factor (2FA) authentication is a powerful hacker deterrent. Like any good system, cybercriminals have found ways to sidestep 2FA. That’s why cybersecurity professionals are urging industry leaders to update to multi-factor authentication (MFA) immediately.
Microsoft Officials Urge MFA Cybersecurity
The basic idea behind strategies such as 2FA and MFA is that a cybercriminal cannot cull together enough login information to access a business network. With 2FA, employees with access to the network are required to take an additional step. Although sending a text message to a cell phone to log in on another device seemed perfectly secure, hackers escalated their tactics to include the following.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
- Social Engineering
- Bypassing 2FA Using OAuth
- Brute Force Hacking
- Leveraging Previously-Generated Tokens
For every defense that technology professionals create, hackers work tirelessly, finding a way to circumvent it. The chess match that plays out between digital thieves and cybersecurity experts is won or lost, depending on whether your organization suffers a checkmate. As the effectiveness of 2FA waned, MFA delivered the enhanced protections Microsoft 365 users required. What’s also remarkable is that Alex Weinert, Group Program Manager for Identity Security and Protection at Microsoft, reportedly went on the record stating that businesses are “99.9 percent less likely to be compromised if you use MFA,” according to ZD Net.
What are the Differences Between 2FA and MFA?
It’s essential to understand that 2FA is a type of MFA. Anytime you use more than one authentication protocol, that makes it multiple. Semantics aside, 2FA typically involves logging into a platform. Once you enter the correct username and password, an alert may trigger you to approve access. In other scenarios, a text message with an activation code may be sent to your cell phone.
This seems like a secure authentication method, and that’s largely true. But what hackers figured out is that the 2FA triggers are almost always the same. Either you approve access, or the code is sent to a specific device. All they needed to do was make an extra effort to gain access to that device or information.
With MFA, two or more authentication strategies are employed. In a simple case, you might be required to approve the access and insert the texted code. This puts hackers in the position of having to discover your username, password, security code, and approve access, all without you or your cybersecurity monitoring team noticing. It’s easy to see why Microsoft officials are tossing around the “99.9 percent” figure. Putting in that type of effort to penetrate a business network exceeds the abilities of garden variety hackers.
Secure Your Organization with MFA
Multi-factor authentication ranks among the best ways to protect your digital assets and closes the gaps on 2FA vulnerabilities. The increase of remote workforces also makes enhanced cybersecurity an immediate necessity.
Business leaders would be wise to cast aside any illusions that one protection will keep your data safe. Hackers will eventually find a way to overcome MFA and other hardened defenses. That’s why working with a managed IT firm with cybersecurity expertise remains crucial. As it stands, MFA can shore-up your network defenses and prevent a hacker from stealing your digital assets today.
With over 35 years in the business of supporting and implementing technology for the SME market, and 6 years previously in Corporate IT and Voice. I have seen a great deal of change. The only common thread is I have always focused on the Business Wise application of Technology. We always try to look 5 years ahead of the current technology to make sure our clients are on the right track to meet current and future needs.