How to Implement Multi-Factor Authentication in Your Bank

bank employee using phone for mfa to enhance banking cybersecurity

Banking cybersecurity has metamorphosed from a buzzword into an urgent, non-negotiable aspect of the finance sector. With digital crime evolving at an alarming rate, the financial domain becomes a priority target due to the nature of the information and assets it guards.

To counteract this, banks must institute robust measures—and at the top of the list is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

You’ve Heard About MFA—Are the Skeptics Right?

MFA is a security shield that goes beyond the traditional username-and-password model. By supplementing passwords with a secondary verification method, like a phone notification, phone call, or text code, MFA uses layers of security that massively augment your defense against cyber breaches.

But before we go into MFA implementation, let’s tackle some common misconceptions:

Will It Take More Time for Employees

Are you concerned that layering an additional authentication step will slow down your banking transactions? The reality is that advancements in MFA technology have streamlined the process, ensuring a minimal impact on user experience. And the few seconds it takes to click an approval message on your phone or enter a code is minuscule compared to the potential repercussions of a data breach.

Will It Be Frustrating for Employees? 

Some banks worry that implementing MFA will confuse or frustrate their staff. However, studies have shown that the majority of people prioritize security over convenience when it comes to keeping their data safe.

Will It Raise My Budget?

While it’s true that integrating MFA into the bank’s critical systems comes with an initial cost, the aftermath of a security breach is far more financially draining. Cyberattacks can lead to hefty compliance fines, customer compensation claims, and brand reputation damage.

As far as banking cybersecurity goes, MFA is a small investment for a major security payout.

Necessity, Not Luxury: Why Banking Needs MFA

Banking cybersecurity challenges are vast and unforgiving. From fraudsters attempting to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data to sophisticated phishing schemes that trick even the savviest of users, the dangers are always right around the corner. Here’s why MFA is the indispensable linchpin in the security architecture:

The Experts Agree

Regulatory bodies around the world strongly recommend the implementation of MFA, including the likes of the FTC and FDIC. Additionally, most cybersecurity experts agree, MFA is a must.

Strengthening Defenses Where They’re Most Needed

Financial accounts store a treasure trove of personal and financial information. MFA protects these accounts by ensuring that a person accessing an account is who they say they are, adding the crucial extra hurdle that cybercriminals have to work around.

For example, a cybercriminal might guess your email password and use social engineering to carry out an attack. They could use your trustworthy email to intercept customer emails and change payment details. 

Your bank would then end up sending money to the attacker’s account, rather than funding your customers. These social engineering scams, when a cybercriminal impersonates someone trustworthy, are increasingly popular. 

If you had MFA in place, even if the hacker was able to guess your email password, they’d have no way to bypass the MFA code sent to your texts or given to you through a phone call. 

The How To’s of MFA Implementation

MFA isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Its integration into banking cybersecurity mandates a strategic approach unique to your bank’s current infrastructure. This is where a compliance–based banking expert, like RESULTS Technology, will be integral in implementing your MFA.

Let’s break down the areas where MFA should be deployed and the best methods for their implementation:

Internal Systems: The First Line of Defense

Banks’ internal systems must be fortified with MFA, as breaches here can have catastrophic consequences. This would include your internet-facing internal systems, like Microsoft 365. 

In addition, all 3rd party vendors pose a risk to customer information. DocuSign, Dropbox, Google apps—all of these contain valuable information that a hacker would love to exploit. 

The process needs to be seamless for employees, incorporating biometrics, smart cards, or push notifications for second-level verifications.

Customer-Facing Applications: Customer Account Defense

Here, MFA must be robust enough to avert potential threats while remaining simple and user-friendly. One-time passcodes, voice recognition, and fingerprint scans are becoming the go-to secondary verification methods.

Vendor Relationships: Extending the Security Perimeter

The banking industry heavily relies on third-party services. To ensure these connections do not pose security risks, MFA should extend to vendor portals. Banks must collaborate with vendors, ensuring they are also equipped to handle MFA, whether through Single Sign-On mechanisms or API integration.

Switching MFA On: The Step-by-Step Guide

Now, the technical nitty-gritty. How do you transition to MFA effectively without disrupting operations? The following guide can serve as a blueprint:

1. Choose the Right Method for Each Access Point

Not all MFA models fit a specific department or interface. Assess the nature of access (whether it’s physical, remote, or virtual) and the value of the assets being protected to choose the most viable authentication model.

2. Establish Clear Policies and Protocols

Transparency is key in implementing MFA. Create comprehensive policies and protocols that detail the usage, the right way to execute it, and the protocols for devices and applications that must comply with MFA standards.

3. Communicate with Stakeholders

Any change in banking security systems should be communicated adeptly to staff and customers. Internal training and external communication campaigns should be employed to diminish resistance and clarify the benefits of MFA.

4. Test, Review, and Improve

Constant testing, evaluation, and refinement are essential to keep MFA systems adept at warding off ever-emerging cyber threats. Regular reviews and feedback mechanisms can help refine your MFA strategies and keep them at the cutting edge.

RESULTS Technology Can Help 

At RESULTS Technology, we understand that banking cybersecurity is non-negotiable. Our team of compliance experts provides the necessary guidance and support to ensure both regulatory compliance and customer satisfaction.

Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help you safeguard your bank’s assets.