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The importance of two-factor authentication

The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) was set up to ensure you protect your customers’ payment information effectively. There are numerous requirements in place to make certain that you achieve this. One requirement is to implement two-factor authentication. This is step three of requirement eight in the PCI DSS guidelines. In this post, we are going to explain what two-factor authentication is in further detail so that you can see why it is an important part of PCI compliance.

Two-factor authentication, which is also known as TFA, two-step verification, and 2FA, involves implementing an extra layer of security in order to access anything from online accounts, to software, to confidential files. This means that a username and password is not enough. Once this has been input and accepted, the user will be asked for an additional piece of information. Common examples include the likes of fingerprint recognition and a unique code being sent to the user’s mobile phone that they will have to input if they are to gain entry.

Of course, two-factor authentication on its own is not enough to guarantee that you or your business will never get hacked, but it is a very important step. A lot of hackers gain access to systems because they simply guess the user’s password. This can be done in one of two ways. The first is by merely choosing a common password and trying their luck. You would be shocked by how many people have the password ‘1234’ or ‘letmein’. The truth is, you can’t really rely on all of your employees to choose a strong password and to keep it a secret, which is why two-factor authentication is essential. Moreover, cyber criminals have sophisticated methods of gaining access to a person’s account when there is only password protection. There have been many instances when they have manipulated the entry process in order to gain access. Multiple-factor authentication can help to make sure this does not occur.

However, the presence of another layer of security does not mean that you should not brief your employees about the importance of choosing passwords with care and making an effort to protect their account. Here are some rules that should be followed:

  • Do not use the likes of addresses, birth dates, or even full words in your passwords, as these can easily be found out.
  • Do not use the same password across several accounts.
  • Update your password on a regular basis.
  • Use a combination of numbers, symbols, lowercase letters, and uppercase letters.
  • Choose passwords that are at least eight characters long.

If you do not use two-factor authentication, not only are you putting your business at high risk of a data breach, but you are failing to comply with the PCI DSS regulations that are in place, and this can result in severe consequences for your business, such as non-compliance fines, reputational damage, and fraud losses.

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