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5 min read

Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign-On (SSO)

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As an SMB owner, you may be concerned about the potential impact of Identity Protection on your employees' productivity. After all, implementing security measures often means more hoops to jump through and extra steps to take. What if we told you, it could actually enhance productivity, rather than hinder it?  

By implementing Identity Protection measures such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO), you're adding an extra layer of protection to your company's sensitive information without overcomplicating any process.  But what are they and how they they work?

In this blog post, you'll get your answer, and we'll explore how SMBs can leverage the power of SSO and MFA to enhance their security posture without sacrificing productivity. We'll delve into the benefits of these features and how they can be streamlined for maximum efficiency. 

Get ready to level up your IT security game! 


Ensuring Security in Remote Work Environments - Why You Should Care

The challenges of distributed work can be a real bump in the road to digital success. From managing dispersed teams to dealing with the complexities of remote connectivity, it's like navigating through a maze of hurdles 

Staying productive and connected with colleagues, customers, and partners is one of the main challenges. This is difficult to do without a physical network perimeter for security. 

traditional vs new cybersecurity framework

Traditional office settings had a physical network perimeter. This created a sense of security, as it acted as a barrier to external threats. It protected the internal network from outside dangers. However, with distributed work, employees may be working from various locations and devices, making it challenging to maintain the same level of security.  

Employees may use their personal laptops, smartphones, or other devices to access work-related information, but these devices may not have the same level of security measures as company-owned devices. This can potentially lead to data breaches or other security incidents, posing a significant risk to the organization's sensitive information. Let’s go over some tools you can use to protect your data. 

What is Multi Factor Authentication? 

To prevent cyber attacks or exposure of sensitive data such as passwords you can configure Azure AD’s advanced multi factor authentication (MFA) and conditional access policies to ensure that only the right people have the right access to the right data. 

MFA is, as the name implies, refers to using multiple methods of identity verification to allow access to users. Typically, in addition to a password, users are required to provide an extra authenticator. This is stronger than using 1 method alone and will instantly boost your security and massively reduce risk of breach. It’s the #1 security control you must have enabled. 

MFA is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improve your security posture, because passwords can be cracked relatively easily. Think about it, do you know anyone who uses the same password for all sites they log in? Or is this you? If a hacker gets it, they could have full access to your information. 
So if you are currently relying simply on passwords alone, go and turn on MFA now! In general, MFA comes down to a combination of two or more of the following methods:  

how does multi-factor authentication work

With these features, you can control who, when, and where apps can be accessed. It makes user authentication safer without impacting the user experience.    

Conditional Access for MFA 

To create a more customized security experience based on your needs and end-user usability, you can enable Conditional Access policies to define events or applications that require MFA. This feature allows regular sign-in when the user is on the corporate network or a registered device, but prompts for additional verification factors when the user is remote or on a personal device. 

Conditional Access policies can also be set up to require MFA when risky sign-on situations are encountered, such as different locations, devices, or times than usual. This ensures that your business is protected against potential threats. 

For example, if you or your employees are working from home as usual, you may have no MFA at all. But if all of a sudden, an attempt to sign into their account is detected from a different city or way past work hours, Conditional Access policies would be triggered requiring that user to use MFA in order to gain access.  

Moreover, with Conditional Access policies, you can also limit the number of times users are prompted for MFA by setting up access requirements only for specific apps or situations. This prevents users from being prompted for MFA every time they log in, which can cause MFA fatigue and frustration (we’ll make a future post on this later, so make sure to subscribe for when that one drops!) 

Talk about maximizing security AND creating a simple and easy experience for your users! 


What is Single Sign-on? 

Another great tool to elevate your security game is Single Sign-on (SSO). 

Single Sign-On is a system that allows users to authenticate themselves just once and then be granted access to multiple applications or systems without having to log in again.  

This is how it works: when the user signs in, SSO securely stores their authentication information in a central location. Later on, when the user wants to access a different application or system, the SSO system automatically sends the stored authentication information, eliminating the need for the user to re-enter their login credentials. 

This makes your life easier, because workflows involving multiple credentials can be burdensome and result in people finding risky ways to avoid those extra steps to simply log in.

Studies attribute 23% of security breaches to careless actions of uninformed employees! 

A fast, easy sign-in experience such as SSO, lowers frustrations, risky behavior, security events, and improves productivity. 

 how does the single sign-on enhance secure authentication

Beyond enhancing security and productivity, you will receive fewer help desk calls about passwords because your users will have a single set of credentials to sign into everything.  

If you're interested in learning more about how BEMO can enable and customize these features to your SMB's needs, be sure to check out our Office Hours Video: Are Your Employees Your Weak Spot? A Workshop to Secure Your Company's Data.  

How to Get Access to MFA and SSO With Microsoft? 

So far in this blog, we have established that MFA and SSO are two essential security elements that can help protect your business while also being user-friendly. But how do you implement them within Microsoft? Let's take a closer look. 

To apply MFA within Microsoft, you can use Windows Hello for Business. This feature allows you to use biometric scans, such as fingerprint or face recognition, as an MFA factor based on “something you are (your fingerprint or face” as well as “something you have (the device you’re logging in on)”. Thus, no password required!. You can also use the Microsoft Authenticator app. This user-friendly app offers various options, such as SMS text or OTP codes, push notifications with a "verify" button, or automated voice calls. 

Now, to execute SSO within Microsoft using Azure AD Premium, you will need to have Microsoft Business Premium. This identity and access management (IAM) solution provides a single sign-on for not only Microsoft applications but also other Software as a Service (SaaS) apps like Salesforce, Adobe, WordPress, Cisco, and many others.  

In addition to MFA and SSO, Business Premium also includes an essential security feature called Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR). With SSPR, users can reset their passwords themselves –securely, without the need for IT assistance, saving time and reducing helpdesk costs.  

Moreover, Business Premium provides other robust security features like advanced threat protection and data loss prevention, which are key to protecting your business against cybersecurity threats and keeping your data secure. 

Overall, getting access to MFA and SSO with Microsoft is a smart investment in your business's security, as they help you reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access, while also making it easier for your users to access the applications they need. 

Need help with setting up MFA and SSO or want to get access to all the features Business Premium has to offer? Book a meeting with one of our experts here: 

 Schedule A Meeting

Want to learn more about Microsoft 365 Business Premium and what it can do to boost your security? Check out our Microsoft 365 Business Premium Blogpost. 

Want to learn more about how you can keep your business cybersecure? 

Download our free eBook with the top 9 cybersecurity tips from BEMO's CEO & CISO. Fill out the form below to receive your copy! ➡️


Top 9 Cybersecurity Tips for SMBs (1)



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