MFA is crucial to Zero-Trust security
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Multifactor Authentication With Zero-Trust Systems

Zero-Trust systems are rising in popularity as threats to cyber security become more and more sophisticated and comprehensive. Many organizations are still apprehensive about adapting Zero-Trust principles in their technology since it takes away from the seamless experience for employees and could hamper the smooth workflow.

However, just like all other systems, Zero-Trust is also slowly becoming more comprehensive. An organization does not necessarily need to implement all principles of Zero-Trust security in their infrastructure to have an effective security system. Before we delve further into the details of comprehensive security, let’s take a look at what Zero-Trust systems are:

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What Is A Zero-Trust System?

A Zero-Trust security system refers to a system where no entity inside or outside the system is trusted with valuable organizational data. The system uses multiple levels of security and constant identity validation to allow people access to the system. Even then, not every party with access to the system can navigate through every part of the system.

Because of the rigid structure of a Zero-Trust system, it is difficult to bypass it easily as it is with most traditional, layered security. Other than that, even if a security breach occurs in a Zero-Trust architecture, the breached segment will be isolated from the rest of the system. The attacker will only have access to very limited valuable data. This is because not everyone who is a part of the system is automatically trusted either.

The interesting thing about Zero-Trust systems is that they are not really systems at all; Zero-Trust is more of a conceptual infrastructure. You have to follow principles and approaches to implementations you have to take when trying to implement Zero-Trust. This is also the reason why many organizations have not yet adopted this policy, and they are waiting for it to be perfected and seamless before they can test it out on their systems.

How Does MFA Support Zero-Trust Systems?

Multi-factor authentication or MFA refers to using more than one user authentication method before the user is allowed access to the system. Often, multi-factor authentication requires users to have the username and the password to an account. Once the user has logged in, they are notified through their cell phone, email address, or other means to grant access to the system. This added layer of user validation has now become a crucial step for most organizations because it adds an effective layer of security to the system without compromising the user experience.

MFA is a supreme evolution of the simple username and password method of security since it removes the heavy trust we impose on a single password. Therefore, even if someone does gain the password to a system with sensitive information, they will not be allowed to access the system without validating themselves through other means.

Microsoft has stated that MFA can make a system 99.99% less prone to security breaches. Therefore, we can see how a single layer of added security can help jack up security greatly without making the internal operations difficult. In fact, this is the reason why MFA is one of the critical components of a Zero-Trust system, and many organizations can continue with traditional security means if they have MFA in place.

This brings us to how MFA supports Zero-Trust systems. Currently, organizations are facing Zero-Trust systems’ main problem is that they do not want to compromise on the user experience to tighten security, even if it is crucial. Consistent user validation, limited access from remote devices, and efficient security deployments can make the experience very frictional for the users, and they might turn to other platforms. This is especially more jarring in the convenience-oriented world we have today, where people can access any system from pretty much anywhere in the world.

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The other issue that arises with tightening internal layers of security is that many users will try to find workarounds to access other information segments. For example, if a user wishes to access a segment of information that they do not need to use on a regular basis, they will need to be validated into it. If they are unable to gain the necessary validation since the authority over the system is absent, or for any other reason, the work will come to a standstill. The user and others who face this situation will try to then find other ways to access the system without the need of an authority figure.

This situation will leave the system open to many vulnerabilities and might even make it more prone to security breaches. Other than that, the alternative methods will also hamper the system’s integrity and make it less failsafe.

Rigid user validation can also be relaxed when it comes to systems that are on-premises. This could further make workflow efficient and add a layer of trust to the security measures as well.

A huge part of Zero-Trust systems revolves around automation. As long as automation is in place, the system is Zero-Trust. MFA is a completely automated technology. If a user needs to access the system, they will have to validate themselves through all means of authentication or be denied access.

However, many other internal layers of security will have someone operating at the head of the security system. That entity will need to be present since 100% security automation will cause the system to be highly inefficient and might even cause issues such as system locks for non-threatening user access. So as long as there is someone at the head of Zero-Trust security, the system is not really Zero-Trust since you are, at the end of the day, trusting someone to keep it safe for you.

MFA is the safest way to automate security without compromising on the workflow and without placing your trust in another entity.

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Zero-Trust security is essential in our world today since it is the best way to provide protection against increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks these days. Multi-factor authentication is one of the best ways to begin the implementation of a Zero-Trust system since it greatly protects the system against security breaches and eliminates the heavy reliance on a single password. It is also easy to incorporate within systems and does not affect workflow.

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