Half of organizations use biometrics for privileged account access
Spending on multi-factor authentication (MFA) is set for a major increase, as nearly three quarters of respondents (74 percent) to a survey conducted by 451 Research on behalf of Yubico say they plan to increase their MFA investment.
User experience was cited as the main obstacle to MFA adoption at 43 percent, despite biometrics and other modern authentication technologies providing a better user experience than legacy methods, according to the report. Other obstacles commonly cited include complexity (41 percent) and cost (36 percent).
The 16-page ‘Work-from-home policies driving MFA adoption, but still work to be done’ report shows that spending on MFA is being driven by the effects of the pandemic, increasing security breaches, and new authentication standards like FIDO2 and WebAuthn.
Beyond passwords, 58 percent of respondents chose OTP authenticators as an MFA factor, making it the most popular method, followed by biometrics (54 percent), mobile push notifications (48 percent), SMSs (41 percent), and USB security keys (40 percent).
Yubico launched a line of its USB hardware tokens with fingerprint biometrics last year.
Nearly half of all organizations surveyed have deployed biometrics for privileged administrators and IT staff, though mobile OTP authenticators and username and password combos are used by slightly more than half, and hardware-based OTPs are used by 49 percent, the same number as biometrics.
The importance of MFA also extends beyond businesses to public sector organizations, as shown by a U.S. government report.
US government urges MFA policy updates
The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has issued a report on ‘trends and best practices for network defenders’ to protect against cyber operations by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
Password spraying was employed by the SVR in an attack on email accounts to gain information, according to the report. A compromised administrator’s account had been unintentionally exempted from the organization’s MFA policy, which allowed the attackers to modify the permissions for other user’s email addresses to make them accessible to any authenticated user.
Further, a misconfiguration had allowed logins with legacy single-factor authentication methods on devices not supporting MFA.
Attacks making use of zero-day vulnerabilities and WELLMESS malware are also described in the report.
The agency recommends mandatory use of approved MFA solutions for all users as a way to protect against the first two threats, and changes to authentication to register new devices and confirm users performing certain activities to defend against malware.