1 - The Business Case for Modern Authentication

As more applications and data move into the cloud and organizations embark on digital transformation initiatives, cyber thieves have unfortunately followed in hot pursuit. You need to take advantage of new technologies to improve your business, but you must do so in a secure way to mitigate your risk. At the same time, you can’t make your security measures too prohibitive or you’ll face high dropoff rates and low user adoption.(1)


Two-factor authentication (2FA) is one way to use MFA to protect your enterprise. Requiring two proofs of identity for access to resources, 2FA assumes that if one authentication mechanism is compromised, the other is unlikely to be. Instead of entering only a username and password, for example, you must authenticate using an additional credential, typically something you have (like a fob, smartcard or other hard token).


Legacy 2FA solutions have their limitations. Chief among them is a poor user experience, particularly when clunky hardware tokens and additional passcodes or sign-on steps are required. They’re also notoriously costly and complex to deploy, maintain and administer. And increasingly, 2FA’s effectiveness is being questioned.


Striking the perfect balance between security, cost and user experience isn’t easy. But it’s exactly what modern MFA was made for. Here are three ways it can help your enterprise:


  1. Reduce Risk of Breach
    Using MFA makes it more difficult for hackers to steal credentials or use brute force and discretionary attacks to breach your systems. Given the magnitude of costs associated with a typical breach—not to mention the lost revenue and damage to your company’s reputation—reducing your risk can have a substantial impact on your top and bottom lines.


  2. Accelerate Digital Transformation
    Enabling mobile applications for employees is the most widespread digital transformation initiative, according to a recent survey of 200 IT decision makers.(2) The right MFA solutions enable administrators to allow managed and unmanaged mobile devices to access all their cloud and on-premises applications with the frictionless experience their users expect. Giving users access to the information and insights they need, when and where they need it, allows your company to operate smarter, create value and strengthen competitive advantage.


  3. Reduce Costs
    When it comes to cost, hardware-based token solutions can’t hold a candle to contextual, risk-based MFA. Inherently flexible, modern MFA solutions allow you to step requirements up or down depending on the risk of a particular activity. Doing so reduces the cumulative costs of one-time SMS passcodes, voice calls or push methods by employing those controls only when warranted. The investment in MFA is typically offset by these cost reductions, coupled with the decrease in administrative costs associated with reduced help desk intervention.


(1) Devin Coldewey, NIST declares the age of SMS-based 2-factor authentication over, TechCrunch.com

(2) Ping Identity: The State of Digital Transformation Report, 2016


Chapter 2