October is Cybersecurity Month. It’s time to dig into our shortcomings in technology: password management. Cybersecurity Month reminds us to safeguard our vulnerabilities. From banking passwords to shopping logins, our financial information is susceptible to cyber criminals.
I am confident I can guess one of your passwords. If you’re using “123456” or the word “password,” you are not alone. Do you have one password for multiple accounts? You might be like me: I have a self-destructing, James Bond, encrypted USB drive to save my passwords. How do we avoid dangerous password habits and safeguard them? Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is the answer.
What is MFA? It is a tool to verify your identity when logging into an account. It requires the user to have a secondary device (usually their phone) in the same place to log in. Have you ever received a text message verification code on your phone, a six-digit code? This is one type of MFA. As we advance in technology, we acquire safety protocols to safeguard ourselves. Consequently, hackers progress right along with us.
The codes texted to our phones are not always a secure form of MFA. Hackers can use your phone number and your carrier to receive text messages using your phone number. Once the hacker retrieves the text messages, any account using text to phone MFA is vulnerable. Companies have turned to authentication apps, like Microsoft Authenticator or Google Authenticator, to combat this technological evolution.
Microsoft is leading the way with its authenticator app by providing users with a backward authentication method. Instead of gaining a code from your phone, the app requires you to enter a two-digit number on your device, as shown on the login screen.
If you are one of the many with weak passwords, sign up for MFA. Most companies with an online portal are now using this verification method. Stay cyber-safe, my friends.
Nicholas Davis, Network Administrator