Password security still a major issue amongst SMBs

Password security is still a major issue amongst companies with less than 1,000 employees, reveals new research from security company WatchGuard Technologies.

In its new report, the company spoke to SMBs in the US, UK and Australia, to better understand the current state of password security and multi-factor authentication (MFA) usage.

WatchGuard found that although most IT managers surveyed claim they provide some password training or policies to employees, 47% believe that employees still use weak passwords, 31% believe employees use network passwords for personal applications and 30% believe that employees share passwords.

A whopping 84% of surveyed IT managers would prefer technology solutions in place to enforce password best practices, rather than relying on password policies and training.

Despite WatchGuard advising that these companies need an “intuitive, cost-effective MFA solution”, just over 61% of IT managers at companies with less than 1,000 employees believe MFA services are designed for companies larger than theirs.

Of companies that don’t currently use an MFA solution, their top reasons for not purchasing one are that MFA would be difficult to implement, maintain and support, and that it would be too expensive.

WatchGuard is hoping to change the perception of MFA with its new AuthPoint cloud-based MFA solution, designed specifically for SMBs.

AuthPoint has been designed to eliminate the complex integration processes, considerable up-front expenses and on-premises management requirements.

“We know that a massive portion of data breaches involve lost credentials and since cyber criminals target organisations of any size, MFA is now a prerequisite for all businesses,” said Alex Cagnoni, director of Authentication at WatchGuard.

“In the absence of MFA, cyber criminals can utilise a variety of techniques to acquire usernames and passwords, such as spear phishing, social engineering and buying stolen credentials on the dark web, to gain network access and then steal valuable company and customer data. With AuthPoint, we’re breaking down longstanding barriers between SMBs and MFA adoption with a solution that is affordable, easy to deploy and vastly scalable – all of which is made possible by WatchGuard’s cloud-based approach to authentication.”

WatchGuard’s AuthPoint solution is a cloud service that can be deployed and managed from any location without the need for expensive hardware components. The service relies on WatchGuard’s AuthPoint app to facilitate user authentication.

Once downloaded and activated on a smartphone, WatchGuard’s AuthPoint app enables users to view and manage any login attempts – by way of push notifications, one-time passwords or QR code entries for those in offline scenarios. Additionally, the app is equipped to store third-party authenticators such as Google Authenticator, Facebook access, Dropbox, and more.

WatchGuard also uses an innovative approach to user authentication called Mobile Device Authentication DNA that distinguishes cloned login attempts from legitimate ones. The AuthPoint app creates personalised ‘DNA’ signatures for users’ devices and adds them to the authentication calculation. The result is that authentication messages not originating from a legitimate user’s phone will be rejected.

Enabled from the cloud, AuthPoint requires no on-premises equipment, which cuts down on costly deployment and management activities. It also has third-party integration, allowing companies to mandate that users undergo the authentication process before accessing sensitive cloud applications, VPNs and networks.

“With the launch of AuthPoint, WatchGuard has extended its product portfolio with a vital security offering that is often overlooked by SMBs and has done so in a way that is easy for the channel to sell, deploy and manage,” said Rebecca Fernyhough, account manager at UK channel partner Epic Network Support.

“AuthPoint’s cloud-based architecture means we can easily onboard new customers, allocate licenses, segment permissions and report on their activity from a single, easy-to-use interface. WatchGuard has built AuthPoint keeping both the success of its channel partners and the security of our customers in mind.”

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