Before enabling multi-factor authentication, there are a few things to think about (MFA)

Passwords are difficult to remember. The (seemingly never-ending) list of security standards is supposed to make passwords more safe, but in many situations, it’s had the opposite effect. Because complex passwords that fulfill all security standards are difficult to remember, they are often reused across several sites. They are scribbled on sticky notes by users. They include information such as pet names, birthdays, and phone numbers that are conveniently accessible.

There is no way to keep data safe in this manner. Thankfully, businesses are beginning to recognise and embrace the idea that although access should be difficult for hackers, it should be simple for legal users. MFA is the most effective approach to do this. MFA is an excellent technique to prevent unwanted access to your users’ applications and services. Here are some things to think about as you prepare for your deployment.

  1. Education of the user

Multi-factor authentication is being implemented to mitigate the security concerns associated with password-only access, although some users may find it inconvenient. They may be concerned that this process modification would consume time that may be better spent elsewhere; after all, adding an OTP or accepting a push notification to the login procedure does cost time. Nonetheless, it’s vital that everyone understands why you’re switching to MFA, from management to IT teams to security teams to end users.

To guarantee that everyone plays a part in keeping the firm safe, it is critical to gain buy-in from the whole organization. This should be done through education, so that each user understands the security benefits they are providing by going this extra step.

For example, a frequent practice is for IT to send out letters about forthcoming changes well in advance of when they would occur. Make sure to offer screenshots, FAQs, and contact information so that staff may get help.

  1. Think about your MFA policies.

To avoid becoming too onerous, an effective MFA implementation will strike a balance between security and usability, so think about how you design MFA policies to regulate how and when a second factor is required.

It may sound paradoxical, but prompting for step-up verification less frequently rather than more frequently is sometimes the key. Only when required should a very well risk-based policy design activate step-up authentication challenges.

When logging in from a known network, for example, a policy may need a second factor every 8 hours, or just when signing in from a new device or new location. Or perhaps you have a collection of user accounts with extensive access to sensitive information that require a more stringent regulation.

When entering into sensitive apps, for example, developers with access to source code or executives with access to sensitive information may need to submit a stronger factor type or demand more MFA prompts. When certain user groups try to access a critical resource, MFA allows you to need a second-factor, but not when they try to access the workplace events calendar, for example. The core notion is that extra verification should be as obvious to the user as possible in order to create a positive user experience while maintaining security.

  1. Consider and plan for a range of access requirements.

There will be times when a user has access to the internet but little or no coverage from their phone provider. This may happen aboard a wifi-enabled plane, in a remote cottage, or in the basement of a massive concrete structure. When voice and SMS aren’t an option, Okta Verify with push or one-time password (OTP) are preferable options because their communications are protected through the phone’s Internet connection. Event-based or time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) are generated without the use of a communication connection. They’re also more difficult to replicate or tamper with.

A physical gadget, however, adds to the cost of deployment by becoming another item for employees to carry around, forget at home, or lose.As a result, these factor types may not be the best option for short-term contracts or circumstances with high workforce turnover. When it comes to MFA factors, there are a plethora of alternatives for solving a wide range of problems. When there isn’t (and seldom is!) a one-size-fits-all solution to suit all scenarios, choose what works best for each scenario in your business, bearing in mind that numerous rules and considerations can be applied.

  1. In general, these deployment suggestions offer increased security as well as a positive end-user experience


Allow users to utilize biometrics as a second factor on hardware that supports it (Windows Hello, Touch ID, etc). This improves the end-user experience while also addressing situations when users may not have access to the internet. Make at least two different sorts of factors available to consumers so that they have a backup option. Allow users to reset their factor on their own (for example, reset an authenticator app on a lost phone) Start by allowing only strong factor types in your deployment (mobile app authenticators, push notifications, biometrics)

  1. Carefully review the standards for compliance.

Strong user authentication controls are required by most IT compliance requirements, such as PCI DSS, SOX, and HIPAA, making them plausible motivators for an MFA deployment. It may seem self-evident, but if you want to satisfy these standards, make sure you have a thorough grasp of the criteria so you can modify setup and policies accordingly.

PCI and HIPAA compliance, for example, both demand robust authentication, which includes at least two of these three methods: something you know, something you have, and something you are. And, while SOX is less concerned with technology, you’ll still need to show that your company’s financial and accounting data is safe in order to pass an audit. IT compliance necessitates not just the implementation of applicable standards, but also the capacity to demonstrate that you’ve fulfilled them. Make documentation a component of your setup and implementation so you can verify they’ve been met in an audit swiftly and confidently. Your future self (and your organization!) will be grateful.

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