3 Ways Cisco Duo Multi-factor Authentication Benefits Remote Users

multi-factor authentication
Cisco Duo is a multi-factor authenticator, which only allows you to log in to integrated accounts if you have a second form of verification, such as a passcode through a mobile app.

Any IT professional will remind you of the need to incorporate cybersecurity into your business.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the traditional workforce to operate remotely, the need for security has only increased.

You no longer have complete control of the networks your users are operating on, and with all of your workforce telecommuting, your attack surface has increased.

A remote workforce has more risks.

The good news is there are several steps you can take to reduce the risks of having your workforce spread out on their remote networks. 

As an IT consulting firm and security adviser, at The KR Group, we are frequently discussing these cybersecurity measures with our customers, and one of our recommendations is implementing a multi-factor authentication platform, such as Cisco Duo.

We make this recommendation because of the benefits Duo offers. However, before we get to those, we’ll go over multi-factor authentication and why you need it.

What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication is a form of cybersecurity that requires at least two ways to verify your identity to successfully log into any connected applications or interfaces.

Without requiring an additional form of authentication, once an attacker gains access to your user name and password, any account you have with that combination is now accessible.

Multi-factor authentication requires information you know (login credentials) and something you have, such as a one-time code.

This information is also tied to a secondary device – typically a smartphone, USB dongle, or one-time token – so an attacker would need to have possession of that device to get past multi-factor authentication.

As a Cisco partner, when we talk about multi-factor authentication, we frequently discuss Cisco Duo Security and its following benefits:

  1. There are multiple options for authentication.
  2. Duo offers enterprise-grade security.
  3. Duo comes with Cisco support.

When it comes to protecting your remote workforce, Cisco Duo and multi-factor authentication, in general, is a great step to take to enhance your security posture.

Duo gives options for the second form of authentication

The most common second form of authentication is a one-time code from an app. After using your login credentials, you’re prompted to enter the code to confirm you are an authorized user.

Like other multi-factor authentication platforms, Duo offers this option along with three other forms of authentication.

1.    Duo Push is an approve-or-deny request.

When you enter your login credentials on a program protected by Cisco Duo, the application will ask if you recognize the request and approve or deny it. With this feature, you can complete second-factor authentication from a smartwatch.

2.    U2F authenticator authorizes through a USB device.

This authentication form relies on a USB device, such as YubiKey by Yubico, instead of a user’s cell phone. Your users tap the physical USB device plugged into the device they want to use to log into their accounts securely.

3.    WebAuthn (Web Authentication API) integrates with devices’ biometric authenticators.

multi-factor authentication
Cisco Duo can integrate with smartphone fingerprint readers to confirm your identity.

This authentication form uses the biometric technology (such as fingerprint identification) built into Duo-protected devices to authenticate logins.

Like with a one-time code, all of the other second authentication forms require the user to have both pieces of information whether it is the device to approve or deny a request, a U2F device, or matching fingerprint.

Duo offers comprehensive protection for enterprise accounts

Enterprise and personal accounts are different. Generally, enterprise accounts have more proprietary information. The stakes are higher if they’re compromised, so enterprise accounts require stricter security measures.

Cisco Duo is an enterprise-grade multi-factor authenticator, which means its security features are more stringent and harder to get past.

Being a business application also impacts how Duo is designed. For example, Cisco knows businesses can have hundreds of devices they want to protect, so they charge for the product overall instead of per device.

Also, since Duo was built with business protection in mind, it integrates with many enterprise applications, such as Windows and Mac operating systems, Office 365 programs, enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms, and, of course, Cisco solutions.

Duo comes with Cisco support

The fact that Duo is Cisco’s multi-factor authentication solution is a benefit in and of itself because Cisco devices a nd solutions have their own benefits.

1.    Relationship with Cisco partner

Cisco uses a partnership business model. While the company supplies and supports its products, it relies on partners like The KR Group.

To become a partner, multiple members of the partner organization need to hold Cisco certifications to show they know how to sell, design, and fix the solutions they are providing customers.

2.    Access to Cisco’s support team

Along with the personalization from a Cisco partner, using Cisco products also means you can rely on Cisco itself for support.

Cisco’s support team consists of experts and they are known for being helpful. If you opt for a SmartNet contract, it also means you have access to software support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3.    Continuity with other Cisco devices

Cisco offers a wide array of technical devices and solutions. If you’re looking for a product to add to your IT environment, Cisco more than likely has a product. Duo is a part of this puzzle.

As we mentioned before, when it comes to using Duo for security, it integrates with the other products the company offers.

Implementing Duo for a remote workforce

Multi-factor authentication, such as Cisco Duo, is important for a remote workforce because you have limited control over their remote network. At the same time, your company’s attack surface is greater, so you need to take every precaution to protect your users’ information.

Using Cisco Duo for your remote workforce allows your users to choose the best method for the second form of authentication while providing enterprise-grade security and Cisco support.

As a bonus, Duo is one of Cisco’s current offers to help businesses adapt to a remote workforce. This offer includes free licenses for 30 days to new Duo customers.

If you decide to extend your Duo protection at the end of the 30 days, it’s a simple upgrade, and you don’t have to worry about reinstalling applications or reconfiguring devices.

Duo is only one of the ways to protect your remote workforce, though. There are several other forms of security you should consider.

Beyond security, you also need to consider connectivity and collaboration needs. We’ve compiled a complete list of remote workforce technology needs, which you can download for free.

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