Two-factor authentication (2FA) has been a standard security measure for over a decade. Whether logging into an online bank account, accessing work email, or managing sensitive client information, most internet users have encountered 2FA in some capacity. That’s because the data shows that it works.
According to a 2019 study conducted by Google, 2FA can eliminate 100% of automated bots and 99% of bulk phishing attacks. Two-thirds of targeted attacks can be prevented by 2FA, and when on-device prompts are used instead of SMS or secondary email, that number increases to 90%.
That’s great news, because over 82% of data breaches involve a human element such as misused or stolen credentials. Two-factor authentication closes those security gaps by adding an extra layer of security and keeping the doors into your system locked.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
Two-factor authentication reduces the security risks associated with passwords. It requires users to provide a secondary method of identification such as a biometric or a code sent to you by text message or email. To understand the capabilities of 2FA and ensure that your system is protected, let’s start by taking a look at what it is not:
It is not single sign-on (SSO):
Single sign-on consolidates passwords so that users can access multiple applications by logging in just once. This reduces the number of passwords users must create and remember, streamlines the login experience, and reduces user frustration. 2FA works hand-in-hand with SSO by keeping those passwords secure and minimizing the risk of hacking.
It is not privileged access management (PAM):
Many companies think they are using a PAM solution when in fact they are using 2FA. The difference is that 2FA focuses on preventing access into the system, and PAM controls what users can do once they are inside. PAM solutions limit access to privileged accounts by removing local admin rights and granting admin access only when it is needed. All users operate with standard user accounts, which means that even if a hacker breaks into your system, they are limited in what they can do.
It is not an all-encompassing security measure:
Two-factor authentication is important, but it is much more effective when used in conjunction with other security measures like SSO and PAM. Together these solutions keep your system safe by eliminating the vast majority of threats.
Why Is Two-Factor Authentication a Critical Security Measure?
The goal of two-factor authentication is to improve security without negatively impacting user experience. Here’s why that is critical for your organization:
It introduces an extra layer of security.
Every layer of security you add reduces your risk of experiencing a data breach. With the cost of a data breach averaging upwards of $9 million in the United States, it pays to take every precaution.
It keeps sensitive data safe.
Passwords are notoriously vulnerable, mostly because users don’t always follow best practices for their creation and use. Weak passwords, password sharing, improper password storage, and other faulty password practices put your sensitive data (and that of your clients) at risk. 2FA reduces your vulnerability to password attacks, even if your team members aren’t following password protocols.
It reduces user frustration.
It’s frustrating to be faced with a login every time you try to get work done. User frustration is a common reason for reusing passwords, sharing passwords, or storing passwords in an unsafe location. When used in conjunction with PAM and SSO, 2FA can help you streamline the login process while still maintaining security.
How Does Two-Factor Authentication Fit into Your Cybersecurity Strategy?
Cybersecurity is constantly evolving. The best way to stay ahead of emerging threats is to use a diversified strategy and update it regularly. Two-factor authentication is one piece of the security puzzle, but it’s not enough to keep you safe on its own. A robust cybersecurity strategy will include a variety of protective tools, policies and practices to reduce your threat surface and minimize risk.
Two of the most important tools you can implement as part of this process are a privileged access management (PAM) solution and a password management solution. These tools work alongside 2FA to ensure that only authorized users can access your system.
Ready to upgrade your cybersecurity strategy? Thankfully our password management solution, Password Boss requires 2FA. Contact us to learn how our solutions can help you keep your data safe!