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Multi-Factor Authentication: Easier to Use Than Telling Your Teenager "No"

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

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By Joel Thacker and Tracy Barnes

If you think about it, a cybercriminal is a lot like a teenager, who has a knack (at least, every once in a while) for wearing out Mom or Dad to get something they really want.

At first, they might try to reason with you with a request that seems simple enough. Yet, as you take some time (maybe just a minute or two…) to learn more about what they’re planning (and what they’re really asking you for), that’s when their scheme starts to fall apart. Soon after that, you find yourself saying, “wait a minute”, before, of course, you’re suddenly responsible for ruining their life, weekend and/or they’re night out.

Depending on your age and generation and, regardless of how you might’ve been raised, admit it…you were once that clever teen, or you’ve come away with just a little bit of satisfaction knowing that your kid wasn’t able to pull one over on you.

In the cyber world, it’s kind of the same thing.

The request is an email, a text message, or even a phone call. What’s more, whoever it is, might be someone you think you know -- a family member, a co-worker, or even your boss. The fact is, for most of us, it’s human nature; we want to please someone by doing what they’ve asked us to do. Or we want to feel as though we have the ability to take someone at their word.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and, for all of us, one of the reasons to celebrate is there’s,  actually, a lot of things we can do to make our lives easier and protect ourselves whenever we’re online.

Following on the theme, “Secure Our World”, this week’s focus is to enable MFA, also known as Multi-Factor Authentication.  Whenever we log into our accounts, whether it’s our checking account, or we’re spending some time on Instagram, we are sharing our personal information and confirming our identities. MFA provide us with an extra level of security, simply by entering a code that is texted to our phone or mobile device, or it’s one that is generated by an authenticator app.

Even if our passwords are compromised, an unauthorized user won’t be able to meet the second part of the requirement. Because of that, you’re able to experience that “wait a minute” moment and, instead, ruin the plans that a cybercriminal had for your money or to use your identity to steal from someone else.

The Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) offers a great video to learn about all of the benefits MFA can provide and the fact that you don’t have to be some sort of tech expert to set it up on all of the accounts that it’s available to install it on.  There’s also a handy tip sheet that’s free to download to get you started.

To learn even more about all things cyber, including here in Indiana, we invite you to keep coming back to the Indiana Cyber Hub website for all of the latest FREE resources, best practices and tips for all Hoosiers, businesses, and local government, including our schools. You can also sign up today to subscribe to our blog (it’s FREE) and we invite you to follow us on social media on Twitter/X, LinkedIn and Facebook.