Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks have risen by nearly 400 percent. The abrupt shift to remote working has made companies more vulnerable to attacks than ever before. Just last month, an Iowa college suffered a ransomware attack that left thousands of students and faculty members reeling. Hackers were able to steal a set of credentials and use it to gain administrative access to the school’s systems. The network security issues escalated quickly and the FBI joined the investigation in order to mitigate risk. The incident caused an internet outage that lasted for nearly two weeks while the FBI conducted its investigation. Online classes were suspended, resulting in massive disruptions for students and teachers. These types of security breaches end up costing companies hundreds of thousands—sometimes even millions—of dollars in damages. So how do you stop a disaster like this from happening in the first place? One of the most effective tools for preventing a cyberattack is multi-factor authentication (MFA).

What is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security method that requires a user to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity to gain access to an app or computer network. MFA has been gaining popularity in recent years, but many organizations are still hesitant to take that next step and utilize the technology. So, what’s the holdup? In addition to an increase in cost, there’s an added layer of complexity when managing multiple factors outside of the standard two-factor setup. Most people are familiar with typing in their username and password to access their computer networks or applications. MFA takes it one step further and requires an additional piece of information to complete the login process, such as a PIN number sent to your phone or the answer to a security question. While this dramatically reduces your risk of being hacked, many organizations still favor ease of access over security.

One of the biggest issues our customers are facing, especially those in the healthcare sector, is a lack of cybersecurity. According to a United States Healthcare Cybersecurity Market Report from 2020, “More than 90 percent of all healthcare organizations reported at least one security breach in the last three years. Sixty-one percent of healthcare businesses acknowledged they don’t have effective mechanisms to maintain proper cybersecurity.” As the threat level continues to rise and the cyberattacks become more sophisticated, many cybersecurity providers are starting to request that their customers ramp up their security measures. Several of our customers have recently received a letter from their cybersecurity provider informing them that their premium would be increased by 10 percent if they didn’t employ multi-factor authentication. This trend is only going to continue to grow, especially now that so many companies have shifted to remote and hybrid working models.

Keeping Your Systems Secure

What types of preventative measures are necessary to stop attackers from gaining access to your systems in the first place? We believe a good starting point is to have excellent perimeter security. This includes advanced firewall capabilities, multi-factor authentication, robust DNS security, extended detection and response technology (XDR), and next-generation anti-virus or anti-malware on all your servers.

Let’s say a cybercriminal makes it past that first barrier of protection and somehow manages to infiltrate your systems. How do you mitigate the level of exposure and catch the threat as soon as possible? We recommend using security information and event management solution, otherwise known as a SIEM solution, with a dedicated security operations center (SOC) that continuously monitors your logs and keeps track of what is happening in your environment. This will enable you to catch the threat early on and minimize the total amount of damage that would have resulted from the attack.

Now imagine the worst-case scenario: What happens if someone gains access to your network, the threat goes undetected, and your entire system is compromised for days or weeks at a time? How do you navigate that situation? It all comes down to having a comprehensive backup strategy in place for full disaster recovery. This plan also comes in handy if law enforcement needs to get involved and there’s an ongoing investigation. Officials may tell you that you can’t restore your compromised systems until they gather all the evidence they need, which could take weeks. In the meantime, your company is unable to provide services, and your business is hemorrhaging money left and right. By having a well-tested backup and recovery plan, you could tap into any known data that wasn’t compromised and utilize your secondary systems to keep your business up and running.

With the number of cyberattacks increasing each year, there’s never been a better time to take that next step and add another layer of protection to your network. Multi-factor authentication is a critical piece in achieving full-scale protection, but it all starts with establishing great perimeter security. By stopping attackers from getting access to your data in the first place, you can avoid a large-scale disaster that drains your time, money, and resources.

How IP Pathways Can Help

Our technical experts provide full security and risk assessments to help organizations identify gaps and weaknesses in their security systems. We offer a variety of products and managed solutions, including Security Information and Event Management, Firewall as a Service, Data Backup and Recovery, Penetration Testing, Compliance Assessments, Vulnerability Assessments, and Cybersecurity Program Development. To learn more about how we can protect your business, visit our website at:

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