By Jeremy Nickerson, Scopus Commerce
Scopus Commerce is a division of ColdSpring Commerce Inc.     
Member of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce Technology and Innovation Committee

While I was upgrading to my latest shiny smartphone recently, the customer rep at the wireless carrier store said something that really shocked me.

When he saw my multi-factor authentication (MFA) app on my smartphone, he said that very few people coming through his store use MFA to protect their online identities. Coming from someone who deploys numerous wireless devices a month, this is quite a concerning observation.

Multi-factor authentication is an easy way to increase the online security of your business and personal information.

For many years, passwords were the singular, common go-to method to protect access to sensitive personal and corporate information and their platforms. This assumes that a system can authenticate the user as being the genuine owner and then authorize access to the owner’s information system. It assumes that only the real user would know their own password. However, this assumption is highly flawed. As we all know, hackers can gain access to user passwords through a variety of nefarious means.

Luckily, there is a simple solution to increase the security of your online services beyond just good password hygiene (complex passwords, changing passwords on an ongoing basis). This is done by proving to the authentication system that you are who you say you are by showing that you both:

  • Know something, like your password
  • Have something, like your smartphone

Many online services have various ways to authenticate by device. This includes texting your phone with a code, pushing a notification to your smartphone, or providing an authentication app on your smartphone. Sometimes, a key fob or USB key can be used instead. If all else fails, you can print out a list of single-use codes to use if the system prompts you to authenticate and none of the above methods have been set up or are available.

MFA reduces the number of computers that can access your online accounts from the multitudes of computers and mobile devices located around the world to merely the handful of computers that you actually use.

In this crazy world, no security method is necessarily unhackable or foolproof, but multifactor authentication sure reduces your chances of the bad guys getting into to your sensitive information or even denying you access to your online life.

Take out the five minutes today to help yourself.

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