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The Password is Dead: Introducing MFA


The password is dead: more and more headlines are using this phrase to describe severe security issues with the average password. And it’s true that bigger and bolder hacks have recently put literally billions of passwords out there – a major risk for your online security. But why is this a problem with the passwords themselves? It actually comes down to us. Yes, people are the main problem with passwords.

multi-factor authentication MFA

Most people make four major mistakes with their passwords:

  1. We make easy to guess passwords. The top five passwords in 2014 were all variations on 12345 or password. Many others use their birthdate or names of their family – if a hacker has this information, guessing your password is a piece of cake.
  2. We don’t use enough passwords. 54% of people use five or less passwords across all of their accounts. If one of these is hacked, all of your accounts are in danger. This is why the hacking of a single site, like Yahoo’s 2014 hack, can be so serious – most of those passwords were (and probably still are) used on other sites, including accounts with sensitive information.
  3. We keep the same password(s) for a long time. 68% of people are using a password five years or older. So if some long forgotten site you signed up for is hacked, and you’re still using the same password, they can use it to log into more of your accounts.
  4. We use passwords in unsafe ways. This can range from logging into an account using free public WiFi that’s not secured, or even using their own WiFi if a discovered vulnerability has not been fixed.

All of these mistakes add up to one larger mistake: not using MFA (multi-factor authentication). MFA is the method of using more than one security measure to confirm you are who you say you are. In a world of remote access, it’s the single barrier we have between bad passwords and hackers. There are different types of authentication:

  1. Knowledge based authentication is something like a PIN or “secret question” that you enter alongside your password. These are subject to the same vulnerabilities as your password, but are still something that can be used in conjunction with a password.
  2. Biometric data, like fingerprint scans or facial recognition. These are typically very secure, but can sometimes be difficult to easily use (think about all the times your phone didn’t read your fingerprint properly – or if you even use the fingerprint scan on your phone in the first place!)
  3. Security tokens are the most widely used secondary authentication. The most common form uses your smartphone to generate a unique, random password when you are logging into your account. It’s highly unlikely a hacker has access to both your account information and your physical smartphone, while it’s highly likely you have your phone with you, which is why this is such a popular option.

Multi-factor authentication is important for both business and personal use. In your business, it allows for remote access away from the office while still keeping company information secure. Personal use protects an individual’s security, but given the previously discussed nature of passwords, it’s also incredibly helpful for a business to prevent one personal hacking incident from impacting the entire office. Multi-factor is easy to implement and cheap (Google Authenticator is free, although it has no centralized administration and is probably not a good choice for a business setting).

Here at Domain, we strongly encourage that all of the businesses we serve implement multi-factor authentication, and set it up to be as easy and efficient as possible. We see it as a great security measure that’s in line with our philosophy of being a proactive IT provider and cyber security specialist. THE BOTTOM LINE: With Domain’s help, you can say goodbye to passwords and embrace the future of MFA.

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