Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Security

Verification code on SMS or push message in smartphone and computer pc

Welcome to October, the spookiest month of the year!

No, we’re not talking cute kids dressed as their favorite cartoon character on a mission to collect a mountain of candy. That’s a treat. We’re here to talk about the tricks, and how you can keep from falling for them. That’s right, it’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

For 2022, has created the theme, “See Yourself in Cyber,” and are highlighting four actions (that’s one per week) you can take to improve your security awareness and keep yourself safer online! 

In order to help foster more understanding around these four action items, we’ve got new content coming your way each week, all month long!

WEEK 1: Enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
WEEK 2: Use Strong Passwords
WEEK 3: Recognize and Report Phishing
WEEK 4: Update Your Software 

And now, without further delay, let’s talk about the importance of enabling MFA!

Why It’s Important to Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

I recall a tale from my childhood of teenage ne’er-do-wells sneaking up on young unsuspecting trick or treaters, cutting a hole in the bottom of their trick or treat bags, and catching all of the falling candy in their own bag.

This terrible trick relied on the bad guys going undetected and swiping your candy without you knowing. 

But what if you could have had a warning system? What if, before the bad guys could access your candy, there was an extra confirmation that you could approve or deny? 

That’s MFA. Cybercriminals want to sneak into your systems and apps without you being alerted. With MFA, you increase your ability to stop them from accessing your data even if they are able to get past one form of authentication via something like stolen credentials. 

MFA is especially helpful because cyber criminals don’t have to physically be on your computer, in your office, or on your phone to attempt to break into your systems. The proliferation of remote access to systems has only made things easier on threat actors. MFA helps level the playing field. 

Being alerted to any attempt to access your account is a vital aspect of cybersecurity. MFA adds an additional layer of protection, creating one more hurdle cybercriminals have to clear, and one more chance for you to approve or deny access.

Pro Tip: Don’t approve an MFA notification unless you are the person who triggered it.

Don’t Fall Prey to MFA Fatigue

We can’t talk about MFA without talking about the recent Uber breach.

We won’t rehash the details of the attack, but here’s the problem: the Uber employee who triggered the breach had MFA. So, how did the attack happen? Because the cybercriminal pelted the employee with MFA notifications over and over and over and over. 

Overwhelmed and annoyed by the sheer volume of notifications, the Uber employee finally accepted a notification in a moment of weakness. And that was all it took for the threat actor to get in and cause havoc. 

Much like a kid asking their parent over and over if they can eat “just one more piece of Halloween candy,” being pelted with requests like this can wear someone down and cause them to just give in.

So, what can be done? Well, dust off that superhero costume you have sitting in your attic from Halloween’s gone-by, flex your security sense, and resist!

What To Do if an MFA Fatigue Attack Targets You?

1. Don’t approve it!

2. If it is happening on your work account, immediately contact your organization’s security team so they can fully stop the potential attack. If it is happening on a personal account of yours, get in touch with the account support team and change your password immediately.

To put it in Halloween terms, don’t let MFA Fatigue wear you down until you give in and let the bad guy steal all your candy.

How the Uber Attack Proves the Power of MFA

The Uber attack proves that MFA is not a silver bullet, but it also shows how effective a precaution it can be. After all, it was only after multiple attempts that the user finally gave in to the attack. If the user had stayed strong, the attack would have failed. A lock only works if you use it and hold on tight to the key. The same goes for every security tool in your tech stack

However, it’s also important that users understand why it’s important to use the security tool. An understanding of ‘why’ always increases the success of it being used properly and effectively. And that’s where Arctic Wolf® Managed Security Awareness comes in. It prepares your employees to recognize and neutralize social engineering attacks and human error — helping to end cyber risk at your organization. 

Thanks for stopping by and keep coming back all month long for more spooky stories from the world of Security Awareness. Looking for extra scares? Check out this spooky video on multifactor authentication:  

And remember, stay safe out there!

Nathan Caldwell is a managed awareness evangelist at Arctic Wolf. Read more Arctic Wolf guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.