Thwart the cyber-attack

Cornerstone managing director Chris Petty on an easy way to protect your IT security.

Covid-19, social distancing, remote working, cyber security and unified communication. They are the terms of 2020 – and you’re probably sick of hearing about most of them!

But I want to introduce you to a new term – multi-factor authentication.

We’re all sick and tired of being told about scary things that can happen to us.

Sadly, determined criminals are attacking us from every direction possible in this crazy year. Whether it’s phishing attacks, malware attacks or drive-by attacks, we’re constantly under attack.

When it comes to our increasingly long hours using IT, one of the biggest – and easiest – attacks is cyber criminals stealing our passwords. As the majority of people continue to make the mistake of using the same password for all their applications, it’s then pretty easy for these faceless felons to get into your secure areas – and that’s when the trouble really starts.

Wouldn’t it be great then if there was a relatively simple way of eliminating around 90 per cent of the online threats that you could encounter? Well, I have some good news!

Let me tell you more about that new phrase – multi-factor authentication.

Let’s call it MFA, for short. Professionally configured MFA completely removes the threat of a data breach resulting from a compromised password — something 90 per cent of business cyber-attacks rely on.

Over 100 million identities are attacked every month, so it would be foolish to assume that your business would never be a target.

So how does MFA work?

MFA is a security system that verifies a user’s identity by requiring multiple credentials. It’s a critical component of identity and access management (IAM).

Rather than requiring only your username and password, MFA requires additional credentials, such as a code from the user’s smartphone, the answer to a security question, a fingerprint or facial recognition.

The most simple solution is using the Microsoft Authentication app. When you log into your emails and input your username and password, the app on your smart phone will also ask you to approve this log in.

If your company uses Office 365, it is critical that you implement MFA — the great news is it is included in all plans, so there’s no cost. Office 365 accounts are extremely common targets for hackers.

It doesn’t matter if you work for a small business or a global corporation, hackers will randomly attack accounts just because they are using Office 365.

If configured with MFA, however, the vast majority of these attacks will end in failure.

So that great – surprising? – news about MFA again: There is no cost for this service as it is included as part of your plan. You simply need to implement it within your organisation, a process that should take no more than 15 minutes per user. Or – just an idea! – you can always ask the team at Cornerstone to set this up for you.