Layering Login Security: The Power of Multifactor Authentication

It used to be that passwords were enough to protect your accounts. Those days are gone, and you can blame the ever-growing sophistication of cybercriminals. Organizations now need an extra layer of defense against unauthorized access and fraud. That’s where multifactor authentication comes in.

It’s a good idea to require multifactor authentication in many of the systems your organization uses every day—especially critical systems like payments operations. Read on to learn what it is, how it works and why it matters.

What is multifactor authentication?

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity before they can access their account or perform a transaction. Single-factor authentication methods often rely on the traditional username-plus-password combination. MFA goes further and requires additional factors—often something the user knows (e.g., the answer to a security question), something they have (e.g., a smartphone) or something they are (e.g., biometric data like a fingerprint).

How does MFA work in payment solutions?

Payment solutions can apply MFA in various ways depending on the level of security and convenience they offer users. Common examples of MFA in payment solutions include:

  • One-time password (OTP): The user gets a code via text, email or an automated phone call, and they have to enter it along with their username and password to access their account or perform a transaction. The code expires after a short period of time and can be used only once.
  • Push notification: The user receives a notification on their smartphone or a similar device though a secure app that’s linked to their account. With that device, they have to either approve or decline the transaction or account access.
  • Biometric authentication: The user must have their fingerprint, face or iris scanned. This biometric data is usually stored on the user’s device or on a secure server, and it’s matched with the user’s account.

When might payment solutions require MFA? Those scenarios can include when you or other users in your organization log in to their accounts, add a new payment method or change settings. MFA can also be complemented with other security features such as encryption, tokenization or fraud detection to create a more robust risk management practice.

Why is multifactor authentication critical for payments operations security?

Payment fraud incidents are on the rise, increasing 88% since 2021, according to PYMNTS Intelligence research. It’s making organizations and consumers more wary about how payment accounts data is kept (the same study found that 30% of consumers don’t trust having their personal information stored on a connected platform).

Clearly, bolstering security to the systems that house consumers’ payment account data is a priority for any organization. Here’s how MFA in payments operations supports that:

  1. Better Protection: MFA makes it harder for hackers or fraudsters to access your customers’ data, even if they have your username and password. It adds an extra layer of security that deters or delays attackers, giving your organization more time to detect and respond to the breach.
  2. Fraud Risk Mitigation: MFA can decrease the likelihood of fraudulent transactions when the additional authentication requirements thwart bad actors.
  3. Brand Reputation Preservation: A data breach resulting in compromised payment accounts is a major blow to an organization’s reputation that erodes customer trust. Implementing MFA shows you’re committed to keeping customers’ information secure, and it helps safeguard your organization’s integrity.
  4. Satisfying Security Standards: MFA complies with the latest security standards and regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2). MFA helps you meet the requirements and expectations of your customers, partners and regulators, not to mention help you avoid penalties or fines.

The new standard in payments operations security

MFA is no longer just a security best practice—it’s an expectation. A growing share of SaaS platform users consider MFA a must-have capability of the SaaS platforms they use, regardless of segment or industry. In payments operations, it can make a big difference in safeguarding payment accounts and protecting your organization from the potentially devastating consequences of data breaches and payment fraud.

This is part of what’s known as the Zero Trust strategy for information security programs, based on the principle of ”never trust, always verify.” It’s aligned with the latest industry standards, such as PCI DSS version 4.0. And it’s part of CSG Forte’s commitment to the rigorous safeguarding and protection of all customer data.

Want to learn more about how CSG Forte incorporates MFA into its solutions? Just ask us.