Examples of Two-Factor Authentication & Why They Matter

Two-factor authentication is increasing in popularity throughout all industries, from banking to online gaming. This technology improves security for both businesses and consumers.

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication is a two-step process used to verify a user’s identity. During this process, the user typically provides information, such as a password or pin number, in addition to another factor. The second factor may be an item the user has in his or her possession, or it may be a fingerprint, a voice pattern or another characteristic that is difficult to duplicate.

Two-factor authentication offers many benefits to businesses and individual users alike. Not only does it enhance security, but it also provides you with better peace of mind. In addition, implementing two-factor authentication is a cost-effective security measure.

Examples of Two-Factor Authentication

Some of the most common examples of two-factor authentication include:

  • Banks – Most banks now have two-factor authentication available to their customers. This technology improves the security of the customer’s account, and it reduces the risk of breaches that may impact the bank’s reputation.
  • Google – Google offers two-factor authentication for users with any Google account. Since many people use their Google accounts for more than one purpose, this level of protection is essential. If one of these accounts is compromised, the others are vulnerable as well.
  • PayPal – Since PayPal may be connected to a user’s bank accounts and credit cards, protecting the account is very important. Fortunately, PayPal offers two-factor authentication to all consumers.
  • Steam – The popular gaming platform Steam has also established two-factor authentication for its users. This protects gamers from hacking, fraud and other issues.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Softwares (ERPs) – An ERP is an enormous resource for any company, providing access to much of the business. For this reason, it must be kept secure. Many of the big-name ERPs have now enabled two-factor authentication in some form.

Now Is the Time to Adopt Two-Factor Authentication

The examples above represent just a small sample of the organizations and companies that now offer or require two-factor authentication. Soon, this technology will be required for every type of login.

Although establishing and using two-factor authentication may be slightly inconvenient for you, it is much more inconvenient for the criminals who hope to break into your accounts. If you aren’t already using this technology to protect yourself or your company, now is the time to start.

Key Takeaways

  • Because of its many benefits, two-factor authentication is increasing in popularity throughout all industries.
  • Some of the most common examples of two-factor authentication include updated security protocols enacted by banks, Google, PayPal, Steam and Enterprise Resource Planning Softwares.
  • Two-factor authentication will soon be mandatory. Now is the time to start using two-factor authentication to protect yourself and/or your company.

Why Two Factor Authentication Should be a Requirement for SMBs in 2017

Two factor authentication is gaining popularity quickly for good reasons. This technology makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to accounts, thus providing business owners with more security and peace of mind. In addition, two factor authentication is inexpensive and easy to use.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Two factor authentication is a form of identity verification that requires the user to prove his or her identity in two different ways when logging into an account. In most cases, one factor is the user’s password and the other is a physical object, such as a specific computer, mobile phone or token. When logging into an account, the user will first be asked to provide his or her password. Next, the second factor will be verified. If either of these factors is missing, the user won’t be able to log in.

Why is it Important?

Two factor authentication makes it more difficult for malicious individuals to access accounts than don’t belong to them. In today’s world, hacking tactics are highly effective, and usernames and passwords just aren’t enough protection anymore. Some of the benefits of two factor authentication include:

  • Better security – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of two-factor authentication is better security for your company, your employees and your customers. With this technology, the chances of a hacker breaking into your system are much lower.
  • More peace of mind – Knowing that your accounts and data are well-protected provides you with peace of mind, allowing you to worry less and focus more energy on other tasks.
  • Cost effectiveness – Two factor authentication is not expensive or difficult to implement, making it a cost-effective choice for businesses.
  • Protection for your business – Nothing ruins your business’s reputation quite as quickly as a security breach. If a breach compromises your customers’ data, you have to inform them and take steps to protect them from harm. Not only is this costly, but it can also cause you to lose business. Two factor authentication makes these breaches much less likely, which reduces the chances of an embarrassing situation.
  • Guarantee of employee involvement – Implementing two factor authentication in the workplace necessitates employee buy-in, thus ensuring that every employee’s account is protected. When two factor authentication is required, employees must use something for their second factor. This means that even employees with weak passwords or a propensity to share passwords will have a reasonable amount of account security.

Implementing Two Factor Authentication

Because of the benefits of two factor authentication, as well as the ever-increasing threat of security breaches, two factor authentication is highly recommended for both businesses and individuals. Some people complain that two factor authentication is more cumbersome than simply inputting a password. However, this is a small price to pay for extra security. Even though it may take you a little more time to log into your accounts, hackers will have much less success when they try to break in illegally. If you aren’t already using two factor authentication to protect your company, it’s time to make this technology part of your everyday security protocol.

Key Takeaways

  • Two factor authentication is a form of identity verification that requires the user to prove his or her identity in two different ways.
  • Two factor authentication offers several benefits that make it a good tool for businesses, including better security, better peace of mind, more employee involvement and cost effectiveness.

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3 Things You Need to Know About Two Factor Authentication

We’ve entered an age where security is more important than ever – particularly in the world of business. Each year, the average cost of a data breach rises to record highs with no end in sight. Cyber attacks are becoming more common with each passing day.

In an era where the stakes are this high, techniques like two factor authentication are among the best chances you have of keeping your digital information away from prying eyes. Before you begin to use two factor authentication at your own business, however, there are three key things you should know.

Two Factor Authentication is Absolutely Necessary

The importance of actually using two factor authentication is something that cannot be overstated. Requiring two forms of input to secure an account instead of just one (traditionally, a password) is critical, but what really makes two factor authentication valuable is the fact that it often requires input from two different devices.

The chances of a hacker gaining access to your password are high – getting your password and access to your smartphone to input a code from an SMS text message or app on your phone are much, much lower.

Two Factor Authentication is Annoying… Which is a Very Good Thing

One of the major reasons why more people aren’t using two factor authentication right now is because it is a fairly irritating method of security. The process of signing into an account takes significantly longer when you have to use two different devices to accomplish exactly that.

Keep in mind, however, that this is very much for your benefit. An “annoyingly secure” process for you becomes an “infuriatingly secure” process for a hacker or someone else who wants to do you harm. Plus, every second that you can delay the process of logging in is a second you have to stop a potential problem before it becomes a much larger and more severe one moving forward.

Traditional Authentication is Outdated

In the early days of the Internet, passwords didn’t just work – they worked well. Then, two unfortunate things happened at the same time – traditional authentication became outdated and people started to become complacent. People no longer saw the need to come up with unique passwords for each account, as “secure passwords” with multiple special characters and case sensitivity became too difficult to remember.

But what happens when one of your accounts is compromised? Every other account that uses the same password falls like a house of cards. With two factor authentication, on the other hand, this isn’t something that you have to worry about.

When you consider the fact that passwords now protect more than just email – in business, they could give someone unauthorized access to your entire server with client records, intellectual property and more – something needed to step up and replace traditional authentication for all time. Two factor authentication is absolutely that new technique and if you’re not using it, you need to start today.

Key Takeaways:

  • Two factor authentication is absolutely necessary and it is something you should always use in both your personal and your business lives when it is available.
  • Two factor authentication is annoying by design – it’s supposed to keep hackers at bay.
  • Traditional authentication is far too outdated to rely on in 2017 and beyond.

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Top 4 Tips to Spend Your Cybersecurity Budget in 2017

Cybersecurity is an investment for your business, the same as anything else. Part of making sure that an investment is successful will always come down to guaranteeing that your hard-earned money is going to the right places.

This is especially true in terms of digital protection, as if you do unfortunately fall victim to a hacking attempt or other cyber incident it could cost your business dearly – both literally in terms of money and figuratively in terms of the damage done to your reputation. If you really want to make sure that you’re spending your cybersecurity budget wisely in 2017, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind.

Regular Network Scans and Your Cybersecurity Budget

If you’re looking for one of the best ways to get the most for your cybersecurity budget in 2017, look no further than regular network security scans. Remember that networks are constantly in flux – devices are being added or removed and other changes are being made all the time. Regular scans aren’t expensive, but they are a great way to identify problems and suggest changes on an ongoing basis.

Consider Your Move Into the Cloud

If you haven’t already moved your infrastructure into the cloud (or aren’t already planning on doing so), 2017 is the perfect opportunity to start. Always remember that your on-premise technology is more vulnerable and harder to maintain total visibility over. Moving everything into the cloud doesn’t just give you a host of productivity and collaborative benefits, but the security advantages alone are more than worth it.

Moving into the cloud can also help make sure you’re always on the cutting edge of technology without the massive upfront investment usually required.

The Power of Two Factor Authentication

Also commonly referred to as 2FA,  two factor authentication is something that you should absolutely be devoting as much of your cybersecurity budget to as possible. Deploy 2FA across anything and everything that supports it. It may make logging in a little bit of a hassle, but it’ll also make it that much harder for someone who wants to do you harm to infiltrate your network and other resources.

Training, Training, Training

Finally, the importance of investing in regular and ongoing training cannot be overstated. There are certain things that may seem like common sense, but when the stakes are this high nothing should be taken for granted.

Always make an effort to keep all of your employees up to date on things like ransomware deployments, hacking, phishing, not clicking links in emails and more. Make sure they know how to identify a threat and, most importantly, how to avoid it. In many ways, education is the most important investment that you can make in terms of cybersecurity. This is something that will continue to be true for years to come.

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular network scans are by far one of the best ways to spend your cybersecurity budget in 2017.
  • Spend time (and money) focusing on on-premise technology, which is more vulnerable.
  • Invest in regular training for your staff on major threats and how to avoid them.

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How to Properly Manage Your Default Passwords

Whenever you purchase a new piece of IT equipment – be it a router or a Wi-Fi extender or something else entirely – it usually comes with a default password already set by the original equipment manufacturer. This is for your convenience – a product with some type of password is always better than one without.

However, it’s far too easy to forget about these passwords or to leave the default passwords on a machine or device for an extended period of time. It’s far too common, too, leading to severe security issues in place from the moment you get something up and running.

Default Passwords: The Problem You Face

If a hacker has access to a username on a machine, they have 50% of the information they need to get into your system. They can either get the username through a phishing attempt or through similar means, or if you have left the default username in place, they already have it. If the default password on your device was never changed, that same hacker now has 100% of the information they need – all without you even realizing you have a problem.

What To Do With Your Default Passwords

In order to prevent the type of devastating data breach that can bring even larger organizations to their proverbial knees, it’s important to always follow a few key best practices. First, you should always randomize your user names – they’re just as important as your passwords, which means they should also be just as complex as your passwords.

Next, take steps to randomize the passwords themselves. The consequences of failing to do this cannot be overstated enough, so you should always use very complex passwords even on seemingly innocuous devices. Remember that any device connected to your network – no matter how small – is a potential vulnerability just waiting to be taken advantage of by someone who knows what they’re doing. It is of paramount importance that you do not give them that option.

Another step you can take is to use two factor authentication. Because two factor authentication (2FA) requires more effort to log on, it is much harder for anyone that wants to break in. They would need not only a user name and a password, but physical access to a device like a cell phone as well. The changes of this person having all three of these core pieces of information is slim, which is why this is always a step worth taking.

In the End

Default passwords were designed for your convenience, but if they’re left in place for too long they could cause a chain reaction from which you may never recover. Always change your default passwords as soon as possible after you procure a new piece of equipment and take steps to randomize passwords, user names and use two factor authentication for your continued protection moving forward.

Key Takeaways:

  • Default passwords can be exploited if you’re not incredibly careful.
  • You should always change your default passwords immediately after adding a new device or other piece of equipment to your network.

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Two Factor Authentication – What It Is and Why You Need It

In today’s digital world, it’s important to think of cybersecurity as a race that will never be finished. Whenever a new breakthrough hits the market designed to make systems more secure, hackers and other people with malicious intentions get to work trying to find a way to circumnavigate it.

This cat-and-mouse game is one that you’ll never officially win, but you should always make an effort to stay in the lead as much as possible. In many ways, two factor authentication is designed to help you do exactly that.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Also commonly referred to as 2FA, two factor authentication is a technique that many of us are probably familiar with but most of us probably haven’t used in a business sense. That needs to change, effective immediately.

When two factor authentication is enabled for a particular account, a digital code is sent to either an email address, a phone in the form of an SMS text message or through other means. Instead of only requiring a username and password to login, the account will also require that unique digital code – one that is randomly generated and that expires after a short period of time.

Without two factor authentication, a hacker with a username and a password has 100% of the information they need to log into a particular account. Without physical access to a separate device in order to get the digital code, however, they suddenly can’t advance – even with data as important as a password. This, in a nutshell, is why 2FA is so important – it increases security by an enormous amount by adding in a physical component alongside a digital one.

Modern Day 2FA and Apple Pay

If you want to see a perfect example of two factor authentication in practice, look no farther than Apple Pay. Thanks to the unique way that it uses two factor authentication (as the “physical access” component takes the form of your thumbprint), it is actually the most secure form of payment currently operating anywhere in the world today. Even if someone were to have your username, your password and physical access to your device, so long as they can’t replicate your thumbprint in some way, they’re entirely out of luck.

The Future of Security is Here

We’ve officially reached the point where passwords alone are no longer secure enough to offer us the type of protections we need to combat the serious digital threats we now face. Security techniques like two factor authentication go a long way towards closing that gap, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Two factor authentication must be implemented for enterprise users as well as on personal devices to help cut off the access of the people who wish to do you harm wherever and whenever you can.

Key Takeaways:

  • Two factor authentication dramatically increases security by requiring multiple touch points to log into an account.
  • In addition to a user name and a password, you would also need a unique digital code or – in the case of Apple Pay – your actual thumbprint. The chances of having all of these are slim.

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How Can Your Company Protect Itself Against Cyber Attacks?

Cyber attacks can impact your business in a variety of different ways. In order to preserve your assets and your company’s integrity, you need to do everything in your power to protect against these types of attacks.

Understanding the Dangers of Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks occur when an internet criminal breaks into your system to steal information or otherwise cause harm. Some of the effects of a cyber attack can include:

  • Compromise of customer information. – During a cyber attack, your customer’s sensitive data may be stolen and used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Financial losses. – Some cyber attacks lead to direct financial loss for the business through theft. Others may lead to indirect financial losses by costing the company customers or transactions.
  • Loss of intellectual property. – When a cybercriminal breaches your system, he or she can steal intellectual property, such as recipes, protocols, ideas for new products and more.
  • Damage to reputation. – Cyber attacks almost always damage your company’s reputation, especially when they involve customers’ sensitive information.

Protecting Against Breaches

The best way to minimize damage related to cyber attacks is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. To reduce the risk of cyber attacks, follow these tips.

  • Educate employees. – Every employee needs to understand the role he or she plays in protecting your company from cyber threats. They should understand all of the basics of internet safety. For example, employees should be instructed to avoid opening emails from unknown sources, giving their password to other people and logging into the company network from locations that aren’t secure.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links. – Cybercriminals often use malicious links to trick users into allowing them to breach the system. No one with access to your company’s system should ever click suspicious links, especially those sent via email.
  • Use technology to your advantage. – Keep current security solutions, including firewalls, IPS and IDS, in place at all times. Update these technologies on a regular basis. You should also invest in sophisticated antivirus software for additional protection.
  • Implement clear internet usage policies for employees. – Develop a clear set of standards that all employees must follow when using the internet. Monitor employees continuously to ensure that they are following these standards. If employees break your internet usage rules, take action to prevent repeated offenses.

Dealing with Cyber Attacks

Even with the best preparation, cyber attacks may still occur. If you become aware of a cyber attack that breached your system, take steps to minimize the damage immediately. Find out how much of your data was compromised and, if necessary, inform customers. Improve your security measures to reduce the risk of future breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Cyber attacks pose a significant risk to businesses, threatening their profitability, reputation and more.
  • You can protect your company from cyber attacks by educating employees, investing in security measures and implementing internet usage policies.
  • If a security breach occurs, take immediate action to minimize damages and prevent future attacks.

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Network Monitoring: Threats to Expect in 2017

As technology continues to evolve and gain complexity, so do the threats against it. Here are a few network monitoring threats to expect in 2017:

Malware Will Continue to Grow as a Threat

Malware has been a dangerous threat ever since its inception, and it keeps getting more and more threatening. Currently, it is the most effective method for hackers, allowing them to attack targets all over the world, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.

What does this bring into question? Well, the effectiveness of most antivirus products has been put under speculation. A lot of these malware defenses aren’t able to completely protect against malware as it continues to develop and advance. It is also predicted that more attackers will shift to mobile malware, which is a point of caution for many businesses to take because most enterprises are allowing mobile devices to connect to their internal Wi-Fi networks. These devices can easily become targets for these hackers into the system.

The Internet of Things Adds to These Threats

Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that by 2020, there will be more than 26 billion IP network-connected devices. Adding on to what was said in the previous paragraph, this gives hackers many, many opportunities to penetrate into your network. The IoT world is also vulnerable to these risks because its automated devices aren’t the most secured. Currently, there aren’t many strict protocols or standards established in the IoT world, and with these complex systems that automation and various IoT devices have, this lack of security can lead to many security issues. Unless a powerful change/revolution happens soon, you can expect these threats to continue in 2017.

Cloud Security Also Needs More Attention

The 20 billion IoT devices are actually the biggest area for Cloud attacks, as explained in the previous section. There’s no hiding that the Cloud has had some pretty publicized security breaches in recent years, and that has stopped a few organizations from embracing it and its benefits. This is why the Cloud needs to really work on its security in 2017. If it doesn’t, it will be subject to more attacks, which will greatly harm its reputation.

To combat this, there have been recent measures becoming more and more available to improve Cloud security. For example, for those wanting to make the switch, there are various cloud security certifications such as the Cloud Security Alliance’s Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge and the (ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Practitioner (CCSP). If businesses out there take these measures, cloud adoption will definitely increase. If not, cloud security breaches will be another threat that we need to look out for in 2017.

If you want to read more about the additional possible cybersecurity threats 2017 is expected to experience, click here.

How Information Technology Group Will Protect You From These Threats

Don’t let these threats get the best of you. At Information Technology Group, we are known for how we utilize technology to improve business communication, increase the portability of technologies, and, most importantly, minimize network security risks. We’ll make sure you’re never at risk in this new year.

Contact us before it’s too late!


3 Security Solutions to Help Combat Malicious Data Breaches

A business’s data is one of its most invaluable resources. This is why data security is a serious issue that should weigh heavily on the minds of all good managers. To the modern business, data isn’t just used for bookkeeping and ensuring the ethical management of a company – it can be the lifeblood of a firm’s future growth and a roadmap for marketing and better customer service.

Malicious data breaches can be devastating to your business’s reputation and integrity, and if your data is damaged or lost during the process of a breach, it can also set back your business’s growth or force you to waste time and money recovering or rebuilding valuable information.

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see the importance of data security capable of warding off malicious parties. There are plenty of quick and easy security solutions that can protect your data from hackers and malware. Here are three simple and effective solutions:

Educate All Workers On the Dangers and Warning Signs of Malware

As the internet grows, malware and other forms of malicious data theft have become more sophisticated and more difficult to identify. When all the employees of a business know how to identify malware and phishing schemes and recognize red flags, however, it becomes much more difficult for malicious parties to gain access to your network. It’s easy to identify viruses and spyware with those pop-up alert windows, but with this knowledge, workers could also detect dangerous software your computer could be hosting right under your nose.

Maintaining clean and organized file storage is also useful for warding off harmful software. Cleaning a computer’s hard drive of unnecessary files regularly helps prevent malware from taking hold and contributes to productivity in the process.

Require Two-Step Verification When Accessing Data

Accessing sensitive data should require more than a typical username and password, especially when the data is protected by government regulations and a breach could cause legal complications. Two-step verification is becoming more and more common and it is a great way to add an extra layer of security without greatly inconveniencing employees.

One of the most popular forms of two-step verification simply involves entering a code that is texted to an employee’s phone after the first step of the login process is complete. This step is quick and easy to implement, and it makes your business’s data much more secure.

Be Alert When Working Remotely On a Personal Device

More companies are instituting bring-your-own-device policies in the office or allowing employees to spend days working remotely. These are amazing policies that can be great for company culture and workplace morale, but they also come with some inherent risks.

It’s important to make sure that employees working on their own devices understand the importance of data security, and if they work in public, they need to keep sensitive information out of view. Privacy screens are a great and cheap way to help out in this area.

Ultimately, proper data management can make or break a business, and maintaining and protecting it should be taken seriously. For data security and other IT solutions, it’s often worth talking to a professional third party. At Information Technology Group, we pride ourselves on having the know-how and experience to tackle all of our clients’ IT needs. We’d love to get in touch and discuss what we can do for you.

The True Vulnerabilities of the Internet

When people think about dangers on the Internet, terms like malware, ransomware and others come to mind almost immediately. While it’s true that these threats are dangerous and spreading quickly, the fact of the matter is that they will only affect a very small subset of the population. The recent attack on Dyn in late October 2016, however, shed an important (if terrifying) light on the true vulnerabilities that the Internet will face moving forward.

The True Vulnerabilities of the Internet: What Happened with Dyn?

Dyn is a computer company that controls the way the Web’s domain name system, also called DNS, operates all over the world. Think of DNS like a giant phone book – when you type a website’s URL into your Web browser, the browser uses DNS to make sure that it calls up the appropriate information.

The attack itself was executed using the Mirai botnet, which flooded Dyn with malicious traffic. When Dyn’s own servers could not keep up with the sudden demand, they went down – taking much of the Internet in North America right along with it.

What This Means

As stated, the attack on Dyn represented a massive fundamental shift in the way cyber criminals think and operate. In terms of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), it was twice as big in scale as any other similar attack to that point. The damage was also much greater, taking many of the Web’s most popular sites like Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, CNN and others offline for extended periods of time.

What is really scary, however, is how the attack occurred. The Dyn attack was carried out by the Mirai botnet. Where a traditional botnet is made up primarily of computers, Mirai harnessed the full power of the Internet of Things to its advantage. Many of the suddenly-malicious devices used to take on Dyn weren’t computers at all, but were Internet-connected digital cameras, smart watches, DVR players and more.

What the Future Holds

The attack on Dyn was just one example of one of the Internet’s true vulnerabilities, but it is undoubtedly one that will be talked about for years to come. It is a very real possibility that this was just a “proof of concept” – cyber criminals somewhere in the world were testing out a theory, seeing if they could actually pull off this type of attack with the type of success they needed. Obviously, they could.

Because of this, this type of attack will very likely be replicated over the next several years. The issue is that this isn’t something that you can necessarily defend against easily, because simply storing a secure backup of your infrastructure won’t solve the problems it creates. Needless to say that if this does become more common, businesses everywhere will long for the days when malware and ransomware were all they had to worry about.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many people believe that malware, ransomware and other types of threats are the true dangers of the Internet – but these will only affect a small segment of the population.
  • The attack on Dyn represented a massive shift in the way cybercrime works, changing the game for all time.

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