Why Two-Factor Authentication Can Significantly Reduce Your Chance of a Data Breach

An unhappy side effect of the march of technology and files going from paper to digital has been the increase in data breaches around the world. We often hear about the large ones at companies like Target or Facebook, but for every breach of a big company, there are thousands of others we don’t hear about at small and medium-sized businesses.

And no matter what size company you run, data breaches are costly. The average global cost of a data breach is $3.86 million and costs have been rising. The average cost per lost or stolen record is $148.00, which is a 4.8% increase over 2017.

The cost in reputation, downtime, and data privacy non-compliance fines all add up to the importance of employing several IT security measures to help prevent the chance of a breach.

Technology Visionaries helps New Jersey businesses with outsourced IT and cybersecurity services to keep their data, and that of their customers, protected. One of the most crucial security measures in any multi-pronged approach that you should be using is two-factor authentication. 

How Does Two-Factor Authentication Work?

Two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor authentication or 2FA for short, helps protect your network and devices from being breached due to hacked or stolen login credentials.

The “two-factor” in 2FA refers to an application or system requiring two different factors to grant you access. The factors are typically:

  • Factor 1: Something you know (your username and password)
  • Factor 2: Something you have (a cell phone or device to receive an authentication code)

If you’re not using two-factor authentication, to gain access to your company applications and data, the user only needs Factor 1 to get in. This leaves your systems vulnerable, because all a hacker has to do is either steal or guess the login and they can breach your system.

If you have two-factor authentication enabled on a software application or website, then once the login is entered, the system will send a code that also needs to be entered to complete the login. The most common way this is done is via text message, although some more sensitive applications, such as bank account logins, may issue you a token device that receives the code.

You typically have a limited time to enter that code, usually 5-10 minutes, before it’s invalid.

This means that if a hacker has stolen login credentials, they are not going to be enough to get them into your system, and you’re protected from a breach.

Where Can You Enable 2FA?

Most business applications will offer the ability to enable two-factor authentication for security. Whether you use Office 365, SalesForce, QuickBooks Online, Dropbox, or another popular program, you should be able to turn on 2FA for your users in the administration panel. 

With Office 365, after two-factor authentication enabled, when users try to login they’ll receive a prompt to set up their 2FA by providing a mobile number that the login authorization code can be texted to.

Why is Two-Factor Authentication Important?

When it comes to passwords, users tend to have similar bad habits. These include:

  • Using the same password for multiple logins
  • Using easy-to-guess passwords
  • Writing their password down on a sticky note near their computer or device
  • Not changing their password often enough

So, while you can try to drill good password practices into your team, many will favor ease of remembering their password over being sure they always use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

81% of hacking-related data breaches are due to stolen and/or weak passwords. 

Stolen credentials are right at the top of a hacker’s wish list. Cracking easy login credentials is like finding the key to the bank vault. And it’s one of the top methods cybercriminals use. 

And small businesses don’t get a pass. Many hackers look for the easy target and typically a small business will have less security to get through than a larger one. Nearly half of U.S. small businesses experienced a cyber attack in the last year. 

Implementing two-factor authentication offers the following benefits to businesses:

  • Significantly reduces the chance of a data breach
  • Typically, no extra cost to turn it on as it comes native with multiple applications
  • Helps solve the issue with poor password habits
  • Easy for users to adopt
  • Only adds a few seconds to the login process
  • Adds extra security for mobile remote logins
  • Lowers security management costs
  • Helps ensure data privacy compliance 
  • Easy to implement company-wide

Need Help Enabling 2FA for Your Company Applications?

Technology Visionaries can help you ensure a smooth rollout to two-factor authentication by identifying the programs and applications that should be using it and enabling it for your entire staff.

Contact us today to discuss your best cybersecurity options to keep you safe from a data breach. Call us today at 732-587-5960 or schedule a free consultation online.