MFA, or multifactor authorization, is a crucial facet of digital security. You come across MFA every day when purchasing items through an online or POS system, logging into your devices, apps, or software, or using an ATM. By requiring more than one point of proof of identity, MFA protects you from data breaches and data theft in your professional and personal life.
So, now that everyone uses MFA, does password security still really matter? The answer is yes, and let’s explore why.
Passwords are one of the most frequently used factors in MFA, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a commonly used system or software that doesn’t require you to enter a password after your user ID. Because password use has become so universal, we often don’t give them more than a fleeting thought. But passwords still have a critical role to play in MFA. Although MFA vastly improves security, no system is infallible. Ensuring password protection is the first line of defense between a secure system and one vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
One of the most significant reasons that passwords are such a commonly used security tactic is that everyone knows how to use them. Your employees and customers are familiar with password usage and can be expected to enter them with little concern. Passwords are also reasonably simple to change. Password resets aren’t difficult to build into your systems and are much easier to implement than changing more complex security factors like biometrics.
You can add an additional layer of security by requiring that your employees periodically change their passwords on their devices and apps. Doing so helps ensure that any potentially stolen log-in information becomes outdated to cybercriminals. However, employees should be cautioned against making their new passwords too close to their old passwords and, therefore, more predictable. They should use unique, strong passwords at every change.
We’ve told you why passwords are still so important to effective MFA, but we also need to talk about why they still aren’t enough. Password harvesting is a popular pursuit for cyber attackers, and they can be relentless. You can fight back against the potential for breaches with one-time passwords for both employees and customers, especially when your system catches an unusual log-in. You gain access with one-time passwords. They are usually sent to the account holder via SMS, text, or email, and get auto-generated. This simple workaround puts an extra factor in your MFA and helps protect private information.
Because passwords are so omnipresent, we tend to accumulate a lot of them. User-generated passwords tend to fall into two categories: ‘favorite’ passwords that people create variations on for every application and ‘completely random’ passwords that people think are uncrackable codes. While there isn’t a single right or wrong way to create a password, a password manager can take some guesswork out of the process while adding another tool to your cybersecurity toolbox. A password manager is an application that can create strong, random passwords for each system that requires them, saves them for quick fill when you need them, and encrypts them in a cyber-vault governed by one password that you create to access it. You can also store your own user-generated passwords rather than have the app create them for you. It’s like a little safety deposit box for all your passwords and PINs.
If all this talk of passwords, cybersecurity, and MFA has your head spinning, you’re not alone. Cybercrime is occurring at accelerating rates, and trying to stay ahead of attackers can be exhausting! The guidance of experienced IT professionals can help you sort out your cybersecurity needs and plan for the future. An MSP, or managed services provider, is an IT partner you can trust to put your business first.
When you work with an MSP, you can build robust security protocols now, including password protection and a roadmap to keep your systems and data safe in the future. Because of their simplicity, ease, and near-global usage, passwords will always hold importance when it comes to MFA. If you want to learn more about MFA, password security, and protecting your data, get in touch! Seasoned IT pros are available to answer all your questions.