Multi-Factor Authentication Can Protect Your Customers – and Your Financial Services Firm

multi-factor authentication

 

Learn how advances in a variety of authentication methods can help to secure critical financial data within your organization

The security of financial data should always be a top concern, one that magnifies exponentially when you are dealing with sensitive data that customers access on the Internet. One way that organizations are helping to prevent hacking attempts of information accessed online is through a practice known as multi-factor authentication. In this blog, we’ll review this incredibly valuable security measure and show you how it can help protect both your organization and your customers.

What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a type of access control that requires a user to provide at least two methods of identification to gain access to a certain application or resource. These authentication methods are typically categorized in the following ways: possession (something a person has), knowledge (something a person knows), and inference (something that identifies an individual).

Two-factor authentication is a form of multi-factor authentication that is one of the most common examples of MFA. An everyday example of two-factor authentication relates to withdrawing cash from an ATM machine. You’re only able to do so if you have both possession of a bank card as well as the personal identification number that is associated with your account.

How multi-factor authentication protects companies and consumers

With nearly 75% of consumers using duplicate passwords, multi-factor authentication offers individuals and companies a way to require more than an easily-hacked password to gain access to critical data.

It’s understandable that individuals repeat common passwords when they are required to enter many of them to gain access to a large number of tools used on a daily basis. This repetition can spell major trouble if and when a hacker infiltrates a company network or website to gain access to password information, however. But with MFA tools requiring a unique verification step from an alternate source, companies can be more confident that their customer data is secure. Even with an unsecure password, individuals must still use this additional form of authentication to gain access.

The rise of mobile phone two-factor authentication

One of the downsides of traditional multi-factor authentication is that a user had to possess a physical token such as a bank card or USB stick at all times. This created issues if these tokens were forgotten or lost and needed to be replaced.

To combat many of the drawbacks of MFA, mobile phone two-factor authentication was introduced. Mobile two-factor authentication often includes some type of code being sent to a mobile device through an SMS text message, call, email, or a special app. This code in combination with a unique password allows a user to gain access to a restricted area or critical data via a device that is used frequently.

Mobile two-factor authentication is much more user-friendly than some of the more dated MFA methods, but it does not come without drawbacks. With mobile two-factor authentication, users must carry their mobile phone at all times and emails or text messages can be insecure, allowing hackers to potentially intercept the SMS token. Encryption of the data that is sent to these devices is one way to safeguard it further.

Multi-factor authentication techniques will continue to evolve

While multi-factor authentication is not perfect, it’s much better than simply using a single password to access critical data. For more information on how implementing multi-factor authentication or other measures that can help keep your sensitive financial data secure, feel free to reach out to Champion Solutions Group at 800-771-7000 or through our contact form.

And check out these additional security resources:

How Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365 Can Help You Protect Your Business

Multi-Factor Authentication

Champion’s Free Mobile Device Security Report

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