Back in May we let you know that come this fall, Microsoft is requiring MFA (multi-factor authentication) on all Office 365 products.
In this post, we would like to follow up on that notification and focus on the importance and impact that Multi-Factor Authentication can have on you and your organization.
What is MFA?
You can make login information more secure by pairing the password – something you know (knowledge) – with another factor, such as something you have (possession) or something you are (inherence). Something you have might be a smartphone, and you can prove you have the phone by reporting back the PIN code that was sent to it in a text message. Something you are could include your fingerprint or other biometric data. When two of these factors are combined to secure an account, it is called two-factor or multi factor authentication.
Why Should I Use MFA?
MFA is an important layer of defense beyond your password. It decreases your risk of falling victim to a compromise because criminals need access to two separate items to compromise your account –for instance your password and your smartphone (to receive the PIN code). Cyber criminals regularly “leak” (release) login credentials from compromised websites. They then use these leaked login names, email addresses, and passwords to find other accounts using the same credentials. This allows them to easily impersonate you online, gain access to work and personal accounts, sign online service agreements or contracts, engage in financial transactions, or change account information. Enabling two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for criminals to use this technique against you because a password would not be sufficient to gain access.
Turning on MFA
Turning on two-factor authentication is really important on websites that process financial transactions (banks), contain sensitive information (Facebook), or could be used to impersonate you (Twitter). You can usually enable two-factor authentication through the security settings and directions to enable two-factor authentication are available in the help section of each website (It may be called “login verification” on some websites). If you can’t find the directions on how to enable two-factor authentication on a specific website, an Internet search for “enabling two-factor authentication on” and the name of the website will usually get you the directions. To be more cyber secure, turn on MFA and pair it with a strong, unique password.
One of the applications you can take advantage of is Google Authenticator and LastPass. These applications refresh the PIN code sent when logging in, so all you have to do is open the app and enter the code. LastPass offers one-click authentication, which will send a request to your smart phone, and you can approve the login with one click. Check the app-store to see more information.
One of the most common components of MFA is a strong password. Typically, this means making the password long, complicated, and unique. But remembering all those passwords can be a challenge. So, while you’re implementing two-factor authentication on your accounts, you might also consider choosing a password manager.
A password manager is a password-protected application that can run on a computer, smartphone, or in the cloud that securely tracks and stores other passwords. This means you only have to remember one password! Most password managers can also generate strong, random passwords for each account. As long as the password to access the password manager is very strong and unique, and the location of the password manager data is protected, this technique can be effective at securing login credentials. When choosing a password manager, ensure it is from a known, trustworthy company with a good reputation. Only use a password manager that stores the information on the device and use it on devices you trust and can keep secure. Some examples of recommended password managers are LastPass, and KeePass (OSI Certified).
If you have any questions or would like assistance with enabling Multi-Factor Authentication on any of your Office 365 or other associated accounts, you can reach us at (484)-845-1600 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org .