Using Multifactor Authentication in Mainframe Security

By Enterprise Security Magazine | Friday, November 30, 2018

While using passwords is an age-old solution to protect important data, using it as the sole layer of security to manage access to critical data today is a recipe for disaster. Although it is simple and can be easily implemented, this approach is not viable in the current competitive digital business environment. Password protection is possibly the cheapest, fastest, and most conveniently deliverable authentication method, but on the flip side, they can be easily compromised through guessing, bypassing, stealing, or even selling. They evidently do not meet the modern security requirements.

Smart companies, especially those deploying large-scale mainframe-based systems, are seeking newer ways to manage access to data and infrastructure. Cybersecurity is becoming a prime concern among companies across the globe. Companies receiving cyber threats are under significant risk of compromised customer and partner relationships, damaged brand reputation, fines and revenue loss. These threats rise in volume and variety as companies undergo the digital transformation, and their attackers become increasingly sophisticated.

The IBM Institute for Business Value’s recent survey shows that 94 percent of C-suite executives are expecting a major cybersecurity incident in the next couple of years, and very few of them are confident to meet the challenge head-on.

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an efficient solution being used by several organizations to restrict access to critical information. While several variations of this have been used in managing access to laptops, phones, and tablets, this option has recently become available for mainframes. The vast quantities of valuable data and proprietary IP stored and managed on mainframes become easier to handle when MFA limits access to important information.

MFA is used to define an approach that makes it essential for the users to identify themselves with something they know—like a pin or password, have a cell phone or ID card, or a biometric code such as fingerprint, iris scan, or voice print. The implementation of MFA across organizations provides more layers of access security and complicates the hacking process, which ensures access only to authorized personnel.

With the rise of MFA, password-protected access is becoming ancient history. According to SecureAuth, over 66 percent of organizations were using MFA to meet their security and compliance concerns in 2015, which increased to 93 percent in 2016. By 2017, over 30 percent of organizations were planning to expand or implement MFA within the next year.

MFA has become the need of the hour and should be embraced immediately to ensure access to critical data by authorized personnel only.