The benefits of Multi-Factor Authentification and Office 365


Any modern organisation has to take identity security extremely seriously. Identity theft is the main method that hackers use to gain access to systems, and these days they don’t just want your username and password. Hackers will try to get hold of any personal information or credentials that they can, and just one compromised identity can cause havoc for your organisation.

This threat and the ever-evolving challenges around identity and cyber security have led to the growth of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). In this article, we will take a closer look at Office 365 MFA.

The Importance of Office 365 MFA


Office is the world’s most popular business system, and this means it is a high priority target for hackers. They will focus on the weak point in any system, which is usually passwords.

Unfortunately, the password has two flaws. Firstly, as an IT security barrier, it is too fragile. If a hacker gets hold of just one piece of information (a password) they can often access all of an organisation’s systems. Secondly, a password is only as strong as its user makes it. Most of us don’t like to have to remember a long string of numbers, letters and characters, which means many passwords are weak.

And the danger posed by one piece of identity theft is not confined to a single company. Hackers often use compromised accounts and systems to target other organisations or individuals. This is why Microsoft recommends the use of MFA.

How does MFA work?


MFA essentially adds another layer to the familiar username and password method. When MFA is employed, a one-off, time-sensitive password is generated to supplement the user’s password. This means that system access requires two pieces of information, one of which can only be used once.

There is a variety of ways that MFA can work with Office 365:

  • A text or phone call is sent to a user’s device, containing a PIN to be entered
  • A PIN is sent through a mobile app
  • A verification code displays on the mobile device at regular intervals
  • OATH tokens can be used for verification

At all times, the IT administrator is able to choose the verification option that users must apply, through Azure.

Why use MFA?


The advantage of MFA is that weaknesses in individual authentication factors are covered by other factors. You can add extra layers of authentication to make the process even harder for hackers to bypass, such as biometric verification through voice or fingerprint checks. Taken together, the different factors combine to make a formidable security barrier for any hacker.

Legal and regulatory issues


It is becoming increasingly common for political, regulatory or trade bodies to insist that MFA is used in particular instances, usually focused on the protection of financial details or personal information.

It is important, however, to choose your method of MFA carefully, ensuring that it is still compliant and recommended by the relevant authority or industry body.

Quicker log in process


It may seem reasonable to assume that MFA would make logging into a user account more time-consuming. But in fact, using MFA enables organisations to speed up the login process by employing quicker options such as single sign-on.

This process validates a user by logging them into single sign-on software automatically, giving them access to all of the apps they need without having to repeat the sign-in process, speeding up the process of getting access to systems while improving IT security.

Join an accelerating trend


As the threat of cyber hacking grows, ever more organisations are turning to Office 365 MFA. It offers the security and reliability that your organisation needs, and offers a flexible, effective IT security barrier that will protect even remote work employees without any inconvenience.

To find out how Office 365 MFA can boost your business security, get in touch with us today.

AMJ IT is a Microsoft Cloud Partner and specialises in Office 365 solutions and Office 365 Backup.

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