The last time we met, when we spoke about cyber security and your passwords, I promised to get back to you about Multi-Factor Authentication. Unlike the second bag of laundry my wife keeps reminding me about, this time I didn’t forget! (Ok, maybe a couple of reminders were needed…)
Physicist Stephen Hawking once said that, “we are all now connected by the internet, like neurons in a giant brain”, which unfortunately means we’re connected to the bad parts as well as the good. However, even though our minds are connected, our computers can’t tell the difference, at least not until recently.
But I have a password to protect me! A good one too!
I’m sure! But sometimes a password alone just isn’t enough. You might think I’m being paranoid but just because you have a fence outside your home doesn’t mean you should leave your front door unlocked. You might even have further protection, like an alarm system and a big dog with a menacing name, like “Tiny” or “Puff”. So why not give your computer system and the data within the same level of protection?
Multi-factor authentication is just what it sounds like, another ring of security protecting the home your data lives in. And even though it’s relatively new to the general public, it’s already evolving just like the world around us. For example, when I first met MFA Technology, the carrier I worked for made us download an app that would text us a code whenever we wanted to sign on for the day – whether remotely or at the office. Now, just three years later, my wife – who works for a health care organization – signs in to her computer with a password, and then uses an app on her agency-issued smartphone to login via thumbprint!
I’m honestly not sure what’s more amazing, the fact that so many of us take things like this for granted, or the fact that Bond-Villain-Level Technology is now truly available at our actual fingertips. Using Biometrics (unique physical characteristics) definitely feels to some like an invasion of privacy, but conversely, it’s also the ultimate form of privacy protection. Think about it, anyone can hack or even guess a password, a friend or relative (or a clever thief) can swipe a work-phone and receive a code needed to sign in to a corporate email account, but the only way most of us know how to get a fingerprint is with the person in question using their actual finger. As phone tech keeps improving to allow for facial recognition, and more and more computers include cameras, it’s conceivable that we will all need a retinal scan to check our email in a couple of years.
Looking into my crystal ball, I can now predict your next question: how much will MFA lighten my piggy bank? The surprising truth: less than you probably would think. Some providers offer a basic package that costs less than $10 per month, per user. While these costs will of course add up, just like with purchasing a cyber security policy, this is a small cost to bear when compared to the cost of dealing with a data breach. The cost of legal defense alone is far greater than implementing either 2FA or MFA across your system. As an old saying states, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure. Your Cyber Liability carrier will also love you for this – so much that you might receive a birthday card from them. Well, probably not a “birthday card” but you’ll definitely be on their mailing list!