Multi-factor Authentication for your Business

January 21, 2015
by Alex Tough

Want to lower the odds of someone getting in to your network to as low as one in 100,000,000,000,000? (That’s 100 trillion!) Then add a third layer of protection!

New threats, risks, and vulnerabilities as well as evolving business requirements underscore to the need for a strong authentication approach based on simple service delivery, choice, and future-forward scalability.

Authentication is the first step in access control, and there are three common factors used for authentication: something you know, something you have, and something you are. Requiring more than one independent factor increases the difficulty of providing false credentials. Think of it this way, each authentication layer is a wall. Level one is relatively low so a motivated cyber crook with decent hacking software can climb over it. Level two is considerably higher and requires heavy-duty, wall-scaling equipment. And level three? Forget about it!

Let’s look at each level specifically;

Something You Know (Level 1)

The something you know factor is the most common factor used and can be a password or a simple personal identification number (PIN). However, it is also the easiest to beat. The chances of someone guessing a four-digit PIN is one in 10,000. The chances of someone guessing a password like P%tTyl6@9M2 is a lot lower. The more complex your password, the more difficult it is to figure out, even if the cyber crook is using software designed for that specific purpose.

Something You Have (Level 2)

This is something like a key, a key fob, a security card to swipe or an electronic code called a “token.” Tokens come in all varieties. For example, there are mobile phone token apps that generate one-time tokens on demand or refresh tokens on a regular schedule. But swipe cards and mobile phones can be lost or stolen, so an even safer Level 2 option is a security token service. A smart card is a credit-card sized card that has an embedded certificate used to identify the holder. The user can insert the card into a smart card reader to authenticate the individual. At the moment banks are starting to use now for their customers when they wish to perform online banking, they simply input their debit card into the reader and enter the unique pin number given to them.This is just added security for that banks can use to ensure keeping their customers financial data private.

Something You Are (Level 3)

This level relates to Biometrics. Some of the biometric methods that can be used are fingerprints, hand geometry, retinal or iris scans, handwriting, and voice analysis. Fingerprints and hand prints are the most widely used biometric method in use today. And it’s more affordable than you may think. Nifty little devices like USB fingerprint scanners and face recognition cameras both start at around £50 each, whereas higher end biometric devices can reach up to £2,500. But it can all depend on what you’re trying to protect!

To sum up Multi-factor authentication serves a vital function within any organization, securing access to corporate networks, protecting the identities of users, and ensuring that a user is who he claims to be. It is a great option to consider if you NEED this level of security to protect your business data.