In light of the lessons IT decision makers may have learned from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach—the largest data security rupture in U.S. government history—the time has come for taking another glance at the benefits associated with a two-factor authentication solution.
A Review of Two-factor Authentication 101
As mentioned in our last article The Benefits of Two-Factor Authentication, a two-factor authentication solution enhances login security as it prompts you to provide “something you know”, such as a password, while leveraging “something you have”, which can include a laptop, mobile phone, or hardware token. We also discussed the flexible options offered by PortalGuard, highlighting the various cost-effective OTP delivery methods.
Moving away from the number of affordable options organizations can access from the two-factor authentication menu, it’s time to consider other benefits that go hand-in-hand with this particular authentication solution. Take compliance, for instance. According to the 2FA public sector, 2FA is deployed in over 500 state and local government organizations just within the United States to address CJIS, PCI, HIPPA, and several other state and local compliance requirements.
To this day, compliance seems to be the top motivational factor for implementing a two-factor authentication solution. For many businesses, understanding compliance alone can be a sizeable hurdle – but 2FA is much more than just a compliance driver. Instead of honing in on that one particular issue, why don’t we focus on why 2FA is such a big part of the compliance revolution?
Understanding 2FA – The Bigger Picture
As with any popular authentication solution, two-factor authentication has a few black marks on its history, such as the 2014 JPMorgan mega-hack. Unfortunately, these negative associations, however few and far-between, often masks the stronger advantages of two-factor authentication.
As I explained in Data Security Compliance | Addressing 2FA User Fatigue, data breaches show no signs of slowing down, thus the only direction for the overall adoption of a two-factor authentication solution to go, is up.
This is where things tend to get a little biased. Clearly, 2FA is not impermeable to all hackers. Even well established companies such as RSA revealed its imperfections back in 2011 when its SecurID authentication tokes were hacked. But is that really what is turning people off from two-factor?
The Conventional Benefit of Two-factor Authentication
Whether you like it or not, society is taking part in a two-factor authentication convention. The more security breaches that take place, the more prevalent the solution will become. From this, a commonplace virtue is created. This two-factor explosion has turned negatives into positives.
It has gone from being a headache that businesses in the past have had several difficulties implementing to a revolutionized tool to securely standardize your logins. As with anything, the more popular two-factor authentication solutions become, the easier it will be to use.
Depending on where you live or what you do for work, there is a veritable cornucopia of reasons that you may be unable to make it into work. Why should that stop you? Maybe you’re on a business trip overseas and need to access confidential files on you laptop. If you live in New England, like me, you may even be required to work from home when you’re faced with inclement weather, such as the wrath of Winter Storm Juno. Whatever your situation may be, two-factor authentication makes working remotely a much safer avenue.
If you’re able, or your company requires you to work off-site using remote access during these types of situations, deployment of a two-factor authentication solution will prevent the network from significant exposure and vulnerabilities. While the 2FA weapon of choice is ultimately up to your company’s IT decision maker (if not you), it is important to choose the one that achieves that right balance of security and usability.
As mentioned earlier, everyone has a different reason for adopting a two-factor authentication solution. Whether that reason is to meet compliance policies, user-driven needs/complaints or threats & attacks, security and usability are not the only core benefits. What about your brand?
I’m All About that Brand
Before you get too confused, I am not saying that 2FA is associated with the security of your registered trademark, but more so with your brand’s overall strength. Think about it; the addition of a strong two-factor authentication platform on your company website so that your end users have the ability to access their account and web applications is a change that creates a positive brand experience.
2FA + ROC = ROI
In today’s world, businesses and organizations are fighting for relevance every single day. Those companies that “get it” understand that it’s no longer all about ROI, but building better relationships with customers with ROC (Return on Conversation). Thus, not only is your 2FA solution solving your initial authentication situation(s), you have the ability to leverage it as a tactic to improve customer relationships.
There are some companies out there today that even allow you to create a customized user interface. As mentioned earlier in Custom UI and the End User Experience | Balancing the Scale, a custom UI provides users with the halo effect. Refer to the video below to see how Jason from PortalGuard provides a brief demonstration.
If you already have a two-factor authentication solution in place for your business or organization, my hope is that you now have a better understanding of its benefits, both implicit and explicit. If you have yet to adopt 2FA, I encourage you to not only analyze your current authentication situation by identifying related challenges, but to keep in mind the core objectives of your company. Enhanced security and compliance alone are not always enough to drive businesses to making a 2FA decision. It all boils down to improving end-user experience as you make your way through today’s two-factor authentication marketplace.