World of SaaS

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) in HR systems 

What is multi-factor authentication (MFA) in HR, how it works, its benefits, and how you can begin using MFA security with PurelyHR!

As foolproof as trusted platforms often appear to be, meaningful security is a constant concern in the digital universe as we know it. Although identity theft is nothing new, it has become more common than ever in recent years. In 2023 thus far, the Federal Trade Commission received 5.7 million total fraud reports, 1.4 million of which were identity theft cases. Experts believe that these cases now occur so often that there is a new victim every 22 seconds

The reality is that there is an ever-growing variety of identity theft methods, and they are increasingly effective to boot. Compromised login credentials and passwords remain a primary access point for scammers, identity thieves, and malicious actors of all stripes. In other words, unauthorized access remains a common phenomenon, and the situation is deteriorating.  

It should be obvious that strong identity and access management in HR systems is crucial to protecting sensitive employee data. It is also instrumental in mitigating the risks of potential security breaches. You heard it here first. 

Introducing multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

What is MFA in an HR context?

In HR systems, multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a core component of any identity and access management (IAM) policy worth its salt. Instead of simply requesting a username and password, MFA requires users to provide two or more verification factors. They may only gain access to sensitive employee data via apps, online accounts, or VPNs once they have done so. This might be seen as a step up from 2FA, which limits verification factors to just two.  

By asking for multiple verification factors, the likelihood of a successful cyber attack is vastly diminished. MFA blocks an astounding 99.9% of modern automated cyberattacks.  

Nonetheless, just 13% of employees at SMBs are required to use MFA, compared to 87% of those at companies with 10,000+ employees. Hardly a sound state of affairs considering that nearly 43% of cyber-attacks target SMBs! Not to mention, small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted than larger companies. Believe it or not, employees of businesses with under 100 employees will experience 350% more social engineering attacks than employees at large enterprises. 

How does MFA work in HR systems? 

Simply put, MFA works by requiring additional verification information. One of the most common MFA factors that users encounter are OTPs. You know, those 4-8 digit codes that you’ve likely received via email, SMS, or a mobile app. With OTPs a new code is generated periodically (after X minutes), or else each time an authentication request is submitted. 

Most MFA methodology is based on one (or more) of the following three types of verification information: 

  • Knowledge. This typically includes passwords, PINs, OTPs, or answers to security questions. 
  • Possession. This includes access badges, USB devices, Smart Cards, software tokens, and OTPs generated by smartphone apps or sent via text/email. 
  • Inherence. This might include biometrics such as fingerprints, voice recognition, facial recognition, and retina/iris scanning, or behavioral analysis. 

For instance, an HR app may beef up access security by requiring a password, as well as an OTP only accessible via email. Organizations that wish to go the extra mile might also require an additional security fob or even facial recognition. 

By adding an extra layer of security beyond a single password, MFA drastically enhances the protection of employee data in HR systems. The fact is, it is infinitely more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access sensitive HR information when faced with MFA-generated barriers. Really, what better way is there to ensure that employee data remains confidential and secure? 

The benefits of MFA in HR systems 

The implementation of MFA in HR systems offers numerous very tangible benefits, including: 

  • Enhanced security. MFA provides an additional layer of protection (or two, or three), making it significantly more challenging for unauthorized users to access HR systems. When safeguarding sensitive employee data is the goal, MFA is 100% the way to go. 
  • Reduced risk of data breaches. MFA ensures a higher level of security for protected information, period. As such, implementing MFA minimizes the likelihood that unauthorized access will ever lead to the compromise of sensitive HR data. 
  • Compliance with industry regulations. Implementing MFA in HR systems can help organizations to meet critical regulatory requirements. It can also ensure that confidential HR data is handled in accordance with industry-specific data protection standards. 
  • Boosted confidence for users/employees. By implementing MFA, you reassure employees that their personal data is well-protected. In turn, this fosters trust and confidence in the HR system and in your organization’s commitment to data security. 
  • Improved password management. MFA reduces users’ reliance on passwords alone, while also reducing the likelihood of weak or reused passwords being the sole point of vulnerability. The result? Better password practices and heightened security overall. 
  • Mitigation of phishing and social engineering attacks. MFA makes it more challenging for cybercriminals to stage successful phishing and social engineering attacks. Even if a password is compromised, an additional authentication factor or two is required for access. 

PurelyHR is deeply committed to enhancing the protection of customers’ HR data. Our recent implementation of an MFA security process is the proverbial proof in the pudding. Our email authentication app requires users to confirm their identity through a unique code sent to their registered email address. This measure effectively adds an extra layer of security beyond a single password. This email-based MFA approach goes a long way toward strengthening access controls where it counts the most. It also provides a convenient and user-friendly means of safeguarding sensitive HR data.  

Ready to enable MFA in your HR system? To begin using MFA security with PurelyHR, follow these simple step-by-step instructions

PurelyHR understands HR needs better than anything else in the conceivable universe, and security is always at the forefront of our concerns. Got questions? Need a little guidance? Want to find out more? Drop us a line today! 

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