Preventing Productivity Loss While Increasing Security Using MFA

Written By: Anthony Reyes

Updated: January 12, 2023

Technology has made it easier for businesses to be more productive, but it has also opened up a new avenue of threats. It is essential that businesses find a balance between security and productivity when managing their IT systems. An overly restrictive cybersecurity policy can result in users losing productivity throughout the week, whilst an overly lax security posture can allow for hackers to more easily compromise your organization. As we’ve discussed many times before on the blog- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an amazing, incredibly low cost, and easy way to protect your business against cybercriminals. Unfortunately, Microsoft recently released a report on MFA usage that notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Just 22% of Azure Active Directory users had MFA enabled. Don’t allow 78% of your organization to be unprotected like this.

The question must be asked: Why do organizations fail to adopt necessary security protocols, like MFA? Studies have shown that multifactor-authentication is up to 99.9% effective at preventing fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many businesses are refusing to adopt it.

Unfortunately, while MFA is highly effective, many organizations fail to implement it due to perceived user inconvenience. In reality, MFA is fairly straightforward and provides much needed added layers of protection without too much disruption for users. Furthermore, the inconvenience associated with MFA pales in comparison to the cost and disruption any major data breach can cause. Organizations need to recognize this discrepancy between perceived user inconvenience and the very real costs incurred by not implementing security protocols like MFA. Most successful hacks are due to improperly secured account credentials being compromised- Take a look back at the September 2022 Uber hack; A hacker used leaked credentials and poor user training for their MFA implementation (or lack thereof) to gain high level access to all of Uber’s systems. 35% of data breaches originate from breached login credentials.

Your organization can have both secure and productive users. It simply requires implementing solutions that better fit your needs; These are tools that improve authentication security without compromising user convenience and ease of use.

Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Not all users are equal- some may handle sensitive information or have access to critical line of business applications or financial access; others may have no access to sensitive information. Trust is the name of the game here and some users will require and be able to obtain a level of trust that’s higher than others. For example: An employee logging in from their regularly used computer inside the company’s office during normal business hours is usually a lot more trustworthy than that same employee logging in from a brand new device at 3 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday from Russia. The first thing you’d probably ask is “Why are they logging in from Russia, and why are they trying to log in at 3AM?”

Contextual authentication is used with MFA to target users that need to reach a higher level of trust. You may choose to limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a certain region. Or you can require additional points of MFA for users attempting to access company systems after normal work hours.

Organizations don’t need to inconvenience employees working from normal locations during standard hours. But they can still verify those logging in under non-typical circumstances. Some of the contextual factors you can use include:

·        Time of day

·        Location

·        The device used

·        Time of the last login

·        Type of resources accessed

Integrate With a Single Sign-On (SSO) Solution

During an average work day it’s common for businesses to utilize numerous different apps and cloud based services. A study performed by Asana shows US workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of lost productivity if they require MFA for each of those logins.

Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. As an example: Employees can log into their Microsoft account once per day, validate their login with MFA once, and then have access to all their line of business apps and services that support Microsoft SSO.

Using multi-factor authentication isn’t nearly as inconvenient as many users make it out to be. SSO solutions help organizations improve their security without all the pushback from users.

Recognized Devices

Enhancing network access security is a critical aspect of protecting an organization’s sensitive data and intellectual property from cyber threats. An additional highly effective method of achieving this is through device recognition, which is typically accomplished using an endpoint device management solution. This technology automates the security behind user authentication, eliminating the need for manual intervention and reducing the risk of human error.

An endpoint device management solution allows organizations to register employee devices, creating a whitelist of approved devices that have been verified as secure. Once registered, security rules can be established to govern access to the network. For example, the system can be configured to automatically block unknown devices, preventing unauthorized access to the network.

Furthermore, the endpoint device management solution can also include features such as device scanning for malware, ensuring that all devices connecting to the network are free from malicious software. Automated updates can also be implemented to ensure that all devices are running the latest security patches and software versions.

Use Role-based Authentication

Different employees have different roles and duties within the organization and thus should be given different access: While the CFO and accounting team may need access to sensitive customer data, financial records, and contracts, it is highly unlikely that the new marketing intern also needs these things. Implementing role-based authentication (along with role-based access controls- RBAC) ensures standardization and grants greater efficiency when onboarding new employees and managing existing users. Authentication and access are determined based on the users responsibilities and duties- their role in the organization. IT Administrators can program permissions and contextual authentication factors once; then, the process automates as soon as an employee has their role set. If an employee’s duties change authentication requirements and access changes immediately take effect upon changing their internal role in the company’s Microsoft tenant.

Promote The Use of Biometrics

We utilize biometric authentication every day on our phones: Fingerprint readers, retinal scans, and facial scans are all sources of biometric data that can more reliably validate a user than a simple password. Without needing to remember or type complex passwords users can login and authenticate in seconds. Stand alone biometric hardware can be costly to implement however, many newer business model laptops come standard with fingerprint readers and most mid to high range business computers support Windows Hello- biometric authentication using facial scans. Implementing these tools into your authentication process can significantly improve secure, mitigate risk, and promote a frictionless user experience leading to higher rates of productivity and security.

Improve Your Organization’s Operational Security Without Sacrificing Productivity Today!

Achieving a successful balance between security and productivity is key for any business’s success in today’s digital world. While there may be challenges in finding this balance, implementing various solutions such as contextual authentication rules or single sign-on solutions can help organizations protect their data without compromising user experience or productivity levels . By taking proactive steps now, CEOs, CTOs, CISOs, and management teams can ensure their business stays productive without sacrificing security measures along the way – making sure everyone wins in this battle between security vs productivity!

If your business wants to increase productivity, become more secure, achieve various compliance requirements, and start utilize existing technology to create and take advantage of new opportunities the fine folks at Ikigai One are here to help! We’re your businesses premier IT Security Services Provider; our team of cybersecurity experts is here to help your organization day or night. Implementing everything we discussed in this blog post can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive if you don’t have a skilled team of cybersecurity engineers that’s able to implement, manage, and monitor these solutions. Our Security Operations Center can monitor your organization 24×7 366 days a year and our Rapid Incident Response team can deploy in less than 15 minutes to resolve any issues your organization may face. Schedule a free 45 minute consultation (valued at over $499) and see if our team is right for your organization. We love to get to know our prospective clients so that we can develop innovative solutions unique to their needs and goals.