The majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are not leveraging multi-factor authentication (MFA) and are relying only on usernames and passwords to secure their data, according to a new study from the Cyber Readiness Institute.
According to the organization’s Global Small Business Multi-Factor Authentication Study of 1,403 small and medium-sized businesses across eight countries, just 46% of small and medium-sized businesses are using multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods recommended by leading security experts. Further, just 13% say they require employee to use it for most account or application access.
Despite the push of tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Apple to move toward passwordless solutions or mandatory MFA, 55% of small and medium-sized businesses are not “very aware” of the tool and its security benefits, and just 28% of SMBs require the use of MFA.
The research also found that companies offering MFA to employees fall short of expressing the importance of leveraging the technology, with just 46% of such companies providing information to employees on the need to go beyond simple usernames and passwords. Another 20% provide no training on the use of MFA, per the survey.
When asked about what is preventing the organization from adopting MFA, businesses cited funding, implementation resources and maintenance costs as the top-three challenges.
Organizations that do use MFA are largely utilizing push notifications or one-time passwords for the second factor, with databases, accounting and human resources making up the top three software applications for which MFA is used, according to CRI.
However, just 28% require the use of MFA for corporate remote access, according to CRI’s research.
Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, commented on the study in CRI’s press release, saying even smaller businesses need to raise their baseline cybersecurity standards.
“The truth is, we need small and medium-sized businesses to be secure in order to protect the whole cybersecurity ecosystem, and that means they need the tools, the knowledge, and the impetus to enforce multi-factor authentication,” said Easterly, who cited CISA’s More Than a Password initiative that encourages the use of MFA>
“Today’s study points out the work left to be done—but also shows the growing community coming together—to collaborate and ensure small and medium-sized businesses have what they need to keep themselves and their customers safe online,” Easterly said.
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