When Alerts Overwhelm: Combatting MFA Fatigue

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As important as multi-factor authentication (MFA) is for an enterprise, too much of a good thing can be problematic. This is why so many organizations today are struggling with a phenomenon known as “MFA fatigue,” where employees become so overwhelmed with MFA prompts that they start ignoring them, bypassing them, or otherwise find their productivity negatively affected by them. This post discusses why MFA fatigue is becoming a critical issue, its associated risks, and three best practices to combat it.

Understanding MFA Fatigue and Security Risks

As more organizations adopt multiple MFA and Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions across their technology stack, the result is that users now receive many times more authentication prompts on a regular basis. While designed to protect critical resources, this dramatic spike in MFA requests can actually increase the security risk from human error, where an employee unwittingly provides an attacker with unauthorized access to resources as a result of being overwhelmed by so many authentication alerts and requests.

An example of this is “MFA prompt bombing,” where employees receive so many repetitive authentication notifications over a short period of time that they eventually become careless and accept any authentication request they receive. In the case of a single-sign-on (SSO) hijack (i.e., where the attacker has compromised the employee’s machine), the results can be disastrous. By simply clicking yes to the authentication request of the SSO login, the user would instantly provide the attacker with access to all connected resources and machines. And if the target was an admin, the attacker would be able to immediately begin moving laterally across the organization on the path to creating serious damage.

Minimize Mishandling of Authentication Requests

To address MFA fatigue, security and identity teams need to take a proactive stance to ensure employees aren’t bombarded with too many notifications within a short period of time. Here are three ways Silverfort can help.

  1. Improve User Experience

Authentication is always a balancing act. While securing users is a top priority, employees need a streamlined authentication process that can easily integrate into their daily work. Too often, security procedures and user experience are at odds, where extra security means extra roadblocks that can frustrate users. When done well, however, authentication can actually be seamless and adaptive.

By extending MFA to any resource that authenticates to the IAM solution in an environment, Silverfort can consolidate the number of notifications an employee receives, resulting in a streamlined user experience. By extending and consolidating an organization’s existing MFA and IAM solutions, users have a much-improved experience.

  1. Reduce Risk with AI & Adaptive Authentication

With identity-based attacks on the rise (e.g., the Okta attack in January), reducing risks related to identity has become a top priority. But traditional MFA solutions fall short in their coverage, as their ability to flag risk is limited to activities related to specific systems and cannot protect the huge array of endpoints, applications, servers, infrastructure, and resources that exist in today’s modern enterprise.

Silverfort’s solution, however, can continuously monitor every access attempt across a company’s hybrid IAM environment with an AI-driven risk engine that analyzes the full context of all activity. This enables both high-precision, real-time detection of any anomalies that indicate malicious activity as well as complete visibility for auditing, forensic investigation, and threat detection. Silverfort also enforces adaptive authentication, which reduces MFA fatigue by requiring authentication only when the risk level is high. This provides organizations with the tools to provide more granular security around specific resources while streamlining the authentication process.

  1. Implement Risk-Based Policies

Determining the right level of risk around resource access is the cornerstone of every organization’s security policies and a key element in balancing user experience with security. With Silverfort’s risk engine, companies can take advantage of adaptive risk-based authentication policies across all users, devices, systems, and environments, building up a rich behavioral profile of every user (including human users and service accounts) and enabling their specific devices to better predict risk.

Silverfort also analyzes all user and device access activities for malicious attack patterns –  including brute force attacks and lateral movement – to help prevent MFA fatigue while simultaneously providing another layer of security against incoming attacks.

Solving MFA Fatigue with Adaptive MFA Security Solutions

Despite organizations implementing advanced security measures, attackers understand that human error is a reliable weakness for them to target. So instead of waiting until your organization has fallen victim, take a more proactive approach and deploy a more practical and more secure solution to MFA fatigue.

Taking a more preemptive approach to MFA fatigue with an identity protection solution like Silverfort can dramatically reduce the user experience of MFA fatigue, reducing the volume of alerts to users so they can make sure every response they give to an MFA prompt is appropriate. As well, implementing more comprehensive risk policies can reduce human error while improving user experience, productivity, and overall security hygiene across your entire organization.

To learn more about the Silverfort MFA solution, download the Reevaluate Your MFA Protection eBook.

Learn more about Silverfort MFA here.

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