Multifactor Authentication Lags in Adoption

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Posted 2009-06-29 Print this article Print

Passwords are obsolete, putting vast amounts of data in jeopardy of compromise. While security pros and businesses talk about multifactor authentication as a means to protect data, very few have implemented such systems and many people don't understand the concept. In an era where data is king and access is near ubiquitous, multifactor authentication is an absolute necessity.

This is one of the more amusing stories I've read in a while. An Ireland utility company says that unencrypted data on four stolen laptops will be difficult to access because the machines require a username and password. "I don't want to minimize the risk but this is not a normal laptop that you could break into that easily," said Dave Bunworth, managing director of Bord G??¡is Energy. The stolen laptop in question contains account data on 75,000 Bord G??¡is' customers.

In the wake of this story, many security and It folks-pro and enthusiasts-have commented on the ease of yanking the hard drives and retrieving the data without ever tripping over a username/password challenge. And Bord G??¡is has redoubled efforts to ensure sensitive data is encrypted, which was the policy prior to the machines' theft.

While encryption is a good measure for protecting data in transit and at-rest, it's not a panacea for all security woes. Access control, authentication and role- or user-based privileges ensure a greater degree of security policy enforcement granularity and data protection. While this seems simple, many organizations are still clueless about the necessity and benefits of multifactor authentication.

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Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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