TECH TIDBITS #1 — MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

Clients frequently ask how to better secure and control access to sensitive information. For an average computer user the answer is multi-factor authentication. In most cases, 2 authentication methods are sufficient, hence the term ‘2 factor authentication’.

Most of us use 2FA daily without realizing it, (computer geeks like assigning fancy terms to everyday activities). A simple example is online shopping. In addition to entering your credit card number,  many sites require the 3 or 4 digit CVC on the front/back of card and card billing address. The numbers comprise one factor,  the billing address is the second.

Generically, 2FA combines something you have, (credit card and its numbers) with something you know, (the billing address). Another common second factor used with many websites is SMS** verification. Something you have (cell phone receiving SMS) and something you know (username/password combination).

If a service or system provides multi-factor authentication, you should enable it. Some vendor services,  (Apple iCloud for example), REQUIRE 2FA. Many other vendors are also moving to a stricter enforcement model.

2FA is not the holy grail of account security, but is a reasonable compromise between security and user convenience. Many companies require multiple security layers with 2FA being one.

Adding security always increases complexity, but in our opinion implementing 2FA is a reasonable compromise between the convenience and complexity.

For additional information regarding multi-factor authentication options, contact us.

* * NIST warriors — we recognize SMS is no longer recommended. We also believe for a majority of users. some authentication is better than none.

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