Can Multi Factor Authentication Be Hacked? Exploring the Potential Vulnerabilities
Multi-factor authentication: the fresh face in cybersecurity basics. Yet, the question remains: can multi factor authentication be hacked?
To implement multi factor authentication (MFA) in your business, you need to weigh up all the positives and negatives (and if there are too many negatives, you get to get away with avoiding the annoying implementation process).
Implementing multi factor authentication can feel like a pain, and you just know your employees will moan to you about how annoying it is to log in. To be honest, are you googling this to find an excuse to save yourself from implementing MFA?
I don’t blame you. But, as my dad says, there’s nothing I am if not a disappointment – and so my answer is going to disappoint you.
Yes, multi factor authentication can be hacked, but it is still worth all the pain in implementation.
But don’t just take my word for it, imagine the following scenario and see if you think MFA is worth the pain in implementation (I can promise you, the pain of implementation is FAR better than the pain of a cybersecurity breach).
It’s Friday evening, and this week has felt like the longest week you’ve had in a long time. The days dragging their heels. Everybody was in a foul mood, and you were getting more and more frustrated as the days passed.
Why? Well, you don’t know. There was just something a bit off about your technology.
It was just a little bit slower. A little bit more glitchy, but your IT team couldn’t determine why. There was no real reason why something was wrong and everybody was in a bad mood.
But don’t worry, it’s Friday evening now, and you’re done for the weekend.
You’re wonderful neighbours have also invited you around for a couple of drinks. It’s time to unwind and put this week behind you.
However, by the time you’ve indulged in a few drinks with your neighbours, your phone has started lighting up like a Christmas tree. But what’s weird about this is, your partner is sitting next to you on the couch. And nobody else would spam your phone at this time of night…
What’s going on?!
Why Multi Factor Authentication
You put your drink down and you stare at your phone. It’s gotten a little bit blurry (strangely), but you can still make out what it says.
It’s a multi factor authentication Office 365 request for your work on your Authenticator app.
What’s going on? You certainly aren’t on your account, and nobody else has your login details.
Is why your technology has been weird? Has somebody been trying to access your systems undetected?
Luckily, you had multi factor authentication enabled to stop the bad guys from accessing your systems fully, or all your future business plans will be out the window.
But, what does it mean if can multi factor authentication be hacked still? Can the bad guys access your business with MFA enabled? Find out in this blog if MFA can be
But first, what does multi factor authentication mean?
Multi Factor Authentication means that you verify your identity with more than 1 method of authentication. For example, the classic method of verifying your identity is using a username and password, but with MFA, you log in with your username and password, and then you authenticate your identity with a code or token.
MFA means that you can better secure your accounts as there is an extra layer of protection against you and the bad guys.
Multi factor authentication means the same as ‘MFA’, ‘2 factor authentication’ and ‘2FA’. All are used to mean more than 1 method of identity authentication.
MFA provides an added layer of authentication to accounts, but what is the importance of MFA? Here are 5 reasons why multi factor authentication is important to your business:
- Increased security: So many logins and passwords are being sold on the Dark Web nowadays that you need an extra layer of protection from unauthorized access. MFA adds an extra layer of security to your business so your business is better protected from cyber security breaches and unauthorised access.
- MFA protects against weak passwords: If we’re being honest here – is your password your kid’s name? Is it where you got married? Is it where you go on holiday every year? How easy would it be to guess your password by having a quick look at your Facebook? If your answer is anything but ‘impossible’, you need MFA for added protection.
- Helps meet compliance standards: To comply with cyber insurance standards and be covered in the event of a cybersecurity breach, MFA is typically a minimum requirement. Cyber insurance is important to your business in the event of a cybersecurity breach.
- Ease of use: Some MFAs use biometric authentication instead of codes, which can make life easier as you do not have to leave the app.
- Blocks bots: Bots are known to use brute force attacks to access accounts, but utilising MFA can add an extra barrier that bots cannot use.
Overall, multi factor authentication is essential for your business because it adds an extra layer of defence from compliance fines to cybersecurity breaches.
How Does MFA Protect Your Business
Okay, so you know why MFA is important, but as the chief financial officer, you have a lot of decisions you need to make about the longevity of your business and any financial risks that could ruin this.
Moreover, in today’s digital world, one of the biggest financial risks to the longevity of your business is cybersecurity breaches. For example, for every small business that gets breached, 60% of them close within the first year after a cyberattack. So, securing your business is of the utmost importance.
With MFA, you protect your business by decreasing the risk of cybersecurity breaches as MFA makes it much harder for cybercriminals to access your data.
So, do you see why it’s important for you to implement multi factor authentication in your business?
But don’t just run off and implement MFA yet, there are still a few things we need to discuss!
Before you run away and start implementing MFA across your business, you need to know that multi factor authentication can, in fact, be hacked.
Over the years of MFA gaining popularity, hackers have had to uncover ways around the extra authentication methods. They need a way to stop you from getting a notification, and you blocking their access. They need a way around multi factor authentication.
So, how do they do this? How can two factor authentication be hacked?
2 factor authentication can be hacked by numerous tactics hackers have adopted over the years. Typically, the techniques that hackers use to hack two factor authentication (or multi factor authentication) are:
In social engineering attacks, hackers manipulate victims into revealing confidential information. They will try to manipulate you into confiding your password or multi factor authentication code to them.
For example, bad actors will phone victims and pretend to be their bank. The typical ruse is that they have been hacked and they are phoning to help them get their money back. However, instead of helping them, they will manipulate people into handing over their passwords and MFA codes. They will use this to empty their bank accounts.
Intercepting Authorisation Codes
Bad actors can also intercept and hack two factor authentication codes by using a ‘man-in-the-middle’ technique. This is where a hacker intercepts you and your server and becomes the ‘middleman’.
Typically, a hacker will use an insecure internet connection (think about public wifi) to intercept your username and password and take your MFA code from an email.
With a man-in-the-middle interception, your username, password, and multi factor authentication code can all be exposed.
For example, a hacker may intercept your server when you are in a cafe. You’ll just log into your account as usual without noticing that the hacker has mimicked your server and is watching your every move. By using a man-in-the-middle attack, they will be able to decrypt your username, password and MFA codes without you noticing.
This way, they’ll be able to access your systems without you even noticing.
Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks are another method hackers use to hack two factor authentication. With these attacks, hackers will try to get passed your MFA block by guessing different MFA codes until one works.
Hackers will not have access to your emails or multi factor authentication Office 365 token, but they will see if they can get lucky.
As an example, a hacker may buy your login details from the Dark Web, but when they go to log in, they’ll notice you have MFA enabled. As they don’t have access to your emails or multi factor authentication Office 365 token, they will need to guess the code and see if they get lucky. If they do get lucky, they’ll have used a brute force attack.
Another method that bad actors use to hack two factor authentication is to exploit tokens from online businesses as a way to gain access to accounts and sensitive data.
Some online businesses use third party authentication websites to generate authentication tokens for users, however, hackers have gotten smart enough to exploit vulnerabilities in these to gain access to the tokens.
For example, if a hacker was to gain your login details and the MFA provider is one they can exploit vulnerabilities with, they can bypass your multi factor authentication app (such as Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator) and log in to your account.
The final method that bad actors can use to hack two factor authentication is to elicit MFA fatigue in victims. Eliciting MFA fatigue is where attackers manipulate you by annoying and harassing you to enter your MFA code either online or on the phone.
They hope that if they annoy and harass you enough, you will give them your multi factor authentication code.
For example, during a social engineering attack, hackers may pretend to be someone of importance (such as your bank). During the attack, they will likely get you to answer questions about your username and password without you noticing. However, you may question why you need to give your MFA code.
Once the hacker starts to harass and manipulate you, you will reveal your MFA code due to MFA fatigue.
Have I Scared You From MFA?
I know you are trying to decide if you need multi factor authentication, and looking at all the ways it can be hacked is scary. But there are preventative measures you can take to protect the security of your multi factor authentication.
So, you know now how multi factor authentication can be hacked or bypassed by bad actors, but how can you prevent it? How can you prevent authentication bypass?
- Push notification limits: Make sure that all of your systems and accounts use a limit on the number of MFA prompts they can give. By setting a limit, you can prevent MFA fatigue.
- Implement strong authentication: Make sure your MFA codes come from a separate device or use biometric authentication to authenticate access.
- Educate staff: Ensure that you provide training to all staff members so that you can educate them on the importance of MFA, and the risks of multi factor authentication being hacked.
- Regularly update for security: Regularly update your MFA systems in the event of any security patches being released.
- Limit attempts: Make sure your MFA system limits the number of failed authentication attempts, and locks after too many wrong attempts.
- Use multi-layered security: Don’t just use MFA for protection against hackers. Use strong passwords, encryption, and endpoint detection to protect your business in a multi-layered approach.
- Encrypt user’s session ids and cookies: Encrypt all your data to ensure that even if hackers can access your systems, they cannot access your data.
Getting multi factor authentication set up can be a real pain – especially if you’re having to go through all the steps in trying to prevent authentication bypass.
As the CFO, you don’t have the time to ensure that your multi factor authentication will be sufficient against a hack. It’s time-consuming, and it can be confusing if you do not know what to look for.
To get help ensuring your MFA cannot be hacked, contact us here at Jera.
Jera is there to guide you on how to secure all the necessary cybersecurity solutions you use to safeguard your business against potential threats, all while relieving you of any hands-on burden.
Do you want to be the person on a Friday evening who gets notified about a potential hack, or do you want to be the person who goes back in on Monday to realize all their confidential data has been stolen?
If you’re the person who wants to stop hackers from entering your business (which, I’m pretty confident you do), then you need to use multi factor authentication.
MFA is one of the most important cyber security solutions your business can use to protect itself from the bad guys, but remember, it is not bulletproof. MFA solutions can still be hacked using numerous methods, but there are preventative measures you can take to prevent this from happening. For more information, contact us here at Jera.
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