Cybercrime against businesses is on the rise. With over two thousand daily cyberattacks, you cannot afford to leave your business vulnerable to hackers.
If your business falls victim to cybercrime, you could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and even be forced to close down your business.
Not convinced? Let us look at some of the most recent statistics around cybersecurity attacks in small and medium businesses like yours:
😱 300,000 new pieces of malware are created daily to steal people’s data, including viruses, adware, Trojans, and keyloggers.
😱 It takes over 11 months for businesses to identify and contain a cyberattack—and they lose revenue every day.
😱 64% of companies worldwide have experienced a cyberattack of some nature.
Whether you have a small business or an established enterprise, you must consider how to protect your systems and networks against unauthorized access that could result in security threats.
If you have remote teams, cybersecurity becomes even more important as connections over public networks—such as Wi-Fi at an airport—are vulnerable to cyberattacks.
One way to secure your business and ensure your systems are hacker-proof is through authentication.
This security technique is a robust way to protect your company, especially if your employees require remote access to your business systems.
In this article, we will discuss:
➡️ What authentication is.
➡️ The differences between two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
➡️ Which user authentication method is best for your business.
Table of contents
What Is Authentication?
One of the best defenses against security threats is ensuring no unauthorized users can access your business resources.
Authentication means a user must prove their identity before they are granted access to your business systems.
To prove their identity, a user would need to provide an authentication factor.
➡️ If a user must provide both a password and a security code to verify their identity, this is known as two-factor authentication (2FA).
➡️ If a user must provide more than two factors, this is known as multi-factor authentication.
📧 Logging into Your Email Account
A common example of authentication is logging into your Gmail account.
Typically you would need to provide a password, which is known as single-factor authentication, as you are only providing only one type of authentication.
Once you have provided your password, you are granted access to your emails.
Some authentication factors can include:
👉 Push notifications.
👉 A one-time password or PIN.
👉 A security token.
👉 A smart card.
👉 A fingerprint.
👉 A security key.
What this means for your business
With an authentication model in place, no one without the right permissions—or ways to identify themselves—can access your systems.
Your resources or systems could include:
👉 Software and applications.
👉 Cloud applications.
👉 Devices such as computers, smartphones, and even printers.
As many businesses now have some form of remote working built into their culture, it is important to consider how your remote employees gain access to these resources while reducing the risk of hacking.
Authentication is an essential component in this setup.
If someone tries to access your business and they are not able to prove their identity through authentication, they are automatically refused access.
What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is when two authentication factors must be provided to verify a user’s identity.
Usually, the first factor will be login credentials, and the second will be any of the other authentication factors listed above.
📧 Two-Factor Authentication When Accessing Your Emails
When you log into your Gmail account with your login credentials, you may have to provide further proof that you are who you say you are.
This is to prevent the wrong person from accessing your emails.
If you have to provide a password and then enter a PIN sent to your smartphone, this is known as two-factor authentication, as you must verify your identity twice.
In this situation, you are using only two factors to verify your identity.
A second authentication factor could be something as simple as information only the verified user would know.
Typically, you can choose how you would like the two-step verification process to work within your business.
For example, a user may be sent a second factor as a code via email or text.
How 2FA authentication differs from other forms of authentication is that two authentication factors are required.
Adding an additional authentication factor over and above a user’s password makes it difficult for a malicious third party to gain access to your business and cause a data breach.
What Is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?
As suggested by its name, multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to verify their identity using multiple authentication factors.
Multi-factor authentication is somewhat more sophisticated than two-factor authentication, as it requires that the user must provide complex evidence that they are who they say they are.
📧 Multi-Factor Authentication: Email Vs Visiting Your Bank
Usually, a platform like Gmail will only require two-factor authentication for you to be able to get into your account.
However, some online resources other than personal email accounts require a combination of authentication methods—for example, entering a password, then a confirmation code, followed by a scan of your fingerprint on a physical device.
Often when an account owner visits a branch in-person, many banks require the account owner to verify themselves with a fingerprint or through facial recognition, a push notification on their phone, and a PIN code—in other words involving three distinct authentication factors.
Types of MFA authentication methods
When it comes to multi-factor authentication, the different factors are slightly more complex than in two-factor setups.
🧠 The knowledge factor
The knowledge factor is something only the user knows, like the answer to security questions, or a PIN or password.
If you have a lock pattern on your mobile device, this is a knowledge factor, as you are usually the only person who knows the pattern.
💳 The possession factor
The possession factor is something the user possesses, such as a smart card or a token. A token will deliver a unique code that a user must enter to gain access to your systems.
👁 The inherence factor
The inherence authentication factor, also called biometric authentication, is something a user is. For example, their fingerprint, iris, or face, which is something unique to them.
This authentication factor would require software and hardware to detect these inherent features, such as a fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, or retina scan.
📍 The context factor
The context factor is based on the user’s location. For example, they would need to be connected to your business network to be verified.
In terms of this factor, simply being connected to your company network is enough for the user to be given access.
However, remote employees would typically need additional authentication factors if they do not have a direct connection to your business resources.
MFA Vs 2FA: Which Is Best for Your Business?
When determining which authentication method you should use within your business, there are a few things you need to consider.
You have to consider the extent to which you need to protect your business’s sensitive data.
Do you have a lot of private customer information that needs to be kept secure? Do you handle highly sensitive data like financial information?
Multi-factor authentication may be a more secure method in this case.
You need to consider how easy it will be for your employees to adopt your chosen authentication method.
If you want your employees to comply with your security policies, you need to make it simple for them to do so.
2FA is generally more straightforward to implement and somewhat easier for your team to adopt than multi-factor authentication.
Any security measure you implement within your organization is worth the money you spend on it. After all, you want to keep your business secure.
However, to enable multi-factor authentication is costly as you may need additional software and hardware.
Two-factor authentication is more cost-effective as it can be implemented with devices and software you already have.
If the type of business you run means that you have regulatory compliance requirements, this may determine the level of security you need.
Industries such as finance, health care, and government organizations may have specific security methods to comply with.
You would need to find out what your compliance requirements are before choosing between secure authentication methods.
How GoodAccess Uses MFA to Keep Your Business Safe
Here at GoodAccess, we have built multi-factor authentication into our product as a secure method to manage user authentication.
Using our cloud business virtual private network (VPN) helps protect your company resources, as we require additional proof of user identity other than a username and password.
We use multi-factor authentication to increase security and achieve our ultimate goal, which is to keep your business safe.
Wrapping Up on MFA Vs 2FA
When it comes to granting authorized users access to your business resources—and blocking unauthorized access while you are at it—authentication is an important data protection method for your company.
Choosing between a two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution will come down to your specific needs and how you want to authenticate users.
If you want to avoid becoming a cyberattack statistic and keep your business safe, check out our free full-feature trial.
We would love to show you how our VPN is designed with your business in mind.