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Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): What Is It, and Do You Need It?

September 29th, 2021 | 5 min. read

By Marissa Olson


Protecting your login information is vital for maintaining security across your organization. At all levels of your organization, from the higher-ups who may have access to a great deal of sensitive data to lower-level employees whose accounts can serve as vital footholds into your network.

It’s vital to have an effective security system in place that will allow you to protect your data, sensitive customer information, and your network against malware, spyware, and theft.

Related Article: Spyware: What Is It And How Can You Prevent It?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is one highly effective way to accomplish that goal. Let me tell you more! 

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication is designed to offer an extra layer of security when you log into your essential accounts. A password alone can be guessed or a “brute-force” method can be used by a hacker. On the other hand, two-factor authentication relies on more than just a series of characters to help protect your account. 

With two-factor authentication, when you log into an account, you must provide two pieces of information: 

           1. You must provide a password, just like you would under other circumstances. and;

           2. You must prove that you have access to another device or account, usually a mobile device or email account. When you log in with the password, it will send a code or permission request to that device or account, which you must then use to access the account. Without it, you will be prevented from accessing the account. 

While some hackers can find their way around two-factor authentication requirements, it adds a level of complexity that makes it much more difficult to hack into an account, particularly in a hurry.


Do You Need Two-Factor Authentication?

As many as 80% of data breaches can be prevented by enabling two-factor or two-step authentication. While it cannot substitute for overall solid password security, it does offer an additional layer of protection that hackers will have to work their way through before they can access your data. 

Financial institutions, security firms, and many companies that deal with secure data already use two-factor authentication for many of their clients. 

Do you need two-factor authentication for your organization? Here are some things to consider:

1. Your Organization Deals With Secure Data

Secure data can mean various things, from corporate secrets that you do not necessarily want to risk sharing with the world to private customer data or financial information. 

Suppose you deal with those confidential pieces of information. In that case, you may find that enabling two-factor authentication can provide an additional layer of security for both your clients and your organization as a whole. 


2. Your Business Is At Risk

Once, only big businesses faced serious risks from hackers, who might have assumed that they should only go after large companies that were worth their time and effort. Today, however, around 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses

Small and medium-sized businesses may also be more vulnerable in general than big businesses since they may not have the same highly protective cybersecurity measures that big companies can afford.

As a result, any business can face substantial risk from a hacker--and two-factor authentication can help reduce those risks.

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3. You Need To Institute An Extra Layer Of Protection

Increasing your cybersecurity protections is rarely a bad thing. In many cases, you may find that simply instituting two-factor authentication can reduce your business's risk. 

You don't necessarily have to protect every account or platform you use. Still, you may want to watch any of the ones that deal in sensitive data or that would cause a severe problem for your business if compromised.

There aren’t any significant downsides to enabling two-factor authentication—and the benefit is that you receive additional protection for your business. 

Related Article: ​​ Cyber Security Risks: Is My Info. Secure?


What Do You Need To Know Before Instituting 2FA Across Your Business?

While there are relatively few downsides to enabling 2FA across your business, there are a few things you need to know before you get started with the new system.


1. You Still Need A Strong Password Policy

Strong passwords are still just as important as ever, even with two-factor authentication. A strong password is complex, does not use dictionary words, uses various symbols, and serves as a gatekeeper to many accounts. 

You want hackers to work to break into either side of the two-factor authentication process, which starts with a strong password. 

Ensure your organization has a policy that prevents employees from using the same password across multiple accounts and platforms since you do not compromise in one area to lead to a breach in another simply due to password duplication.


2. You Need To Back Up Your 2FA Access

The system you use for 2FA will determine how you need to back up your access to those accounts. You don't want employees to get locked out of their accounts because their cell phones have been taken in for maintenance, for example. 

Some types of two-factor authentication will require you to put in a code that you have stored securely in another location before accessing the account. Others may allow you to access it through more than one platform. 

For example, you might have your primary access set through a work phone, but allow access through your email account if you're unable to use the phone for some reason.


3. You May Need A New Policy To Help Protect Work-issued Devices

For 2FA to keep your business secure, you need to secure work devices from being accessed by third parties. 

Ensure employees who use 2FA know how to protect their trusted devices, including using strong passwords on the devices themselves and avoiding actions that could leave the devices open to theft, like leaving them lying out on a desk in the open.

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The Final Say: Two-Factor Authentication And Your Business

2FA is just one of the strategies and solutions that can help protect your business against data theft and malware. Unfortunately, cyberattacks increase each year, and you must take the best security measures to ensure your business and employees are protected. 

Have you installed 2FA on your vital systems? Do you know how to protect your business, especially when it comes to password security? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your business and raise your overall security. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.

Marissa Olson

A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.