#35: Cyber Security Series Pt.3 – Multi-Factor Authentication

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

>Part 3 of our five-part cyber security series -MFA

>What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

>Why is it very important that MFA is enabled?


In this episode, we talk about the next in our five-part series of most effective cyber security defenses which is Multi-Factor Authentication.

Welcome back to The Power Up Project. Great to have you here. Today we’re going to be talking about the next in our series of five top cyber security defenses for your business and this is one that we have spoken about a number of times before in this podcast. So, for those people who’ve heard this all before, I do apologise but, it is a very, very easy, cheap and important one that you will need to be taking very seriously. And that is Multi-Factor Authentication.

So far in this series we have touched on having an advanced, intelligent firewall in place, we’ve spoken about cyber security insurance, and now we’re going to talk about Multi-Factor Authentication. Now, Multi-Factor Authentication in most cases is free or at least very low cost, is very easy to implement and, in my opinion, is possibly the most effective way we have at the moment of protecting our user accounts from malicious actors.

So, what is Multi-Factor Authentication? Multi-Factor Authentication is something that we are all going to be familiar with in business. It’s when we need another form of authentication in addition to our normal username and password in order to log on to an account. For example, we should all be familiar with this, with our internet banking. We log on to our internet banking with a username and a password but then in order to take any action within that account such as transferring money out of the account, we must enter another code. In my case, I have a little keyring dongle with a six digit numerical code that changes every sixty seconds and I simply read that code off my keyring dongle and I type it into the internet banking and my transfer goes through. So, that is Multi-Factor Authentication.

Multi-Factor Authentication within Microsoft Office 365 is there, ready for us all to use. It’s very easy to turn on and you can receive that secret code in a number of ways. You can receive it by text message to your mobile phone or you can receive it using the Microsoft Authenticator app which is a little app you can put in your smartphone that even lets you not have to type in a code but, simply press another button which says “Yes, approve.” But the point is, it is another level of authentication and specifically it’s another level of authentication that is based on something that you have. You have your mobile phone that receives that code, you have the keyring dongle that presents the secret key.

Multi-Factor Authentication is available in almost all modern cloud applications that we’re going to be using within our business. It’s available in all of the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, in Xero Cloud Accounting, in things like Confluence, it’s available for your social media application such as Facebook.

So, my homework for you today, given I’m not going to go on ad nauseam about Multi-factor Authentication yet again. My homework for you today is to write down a list of all of the applications and systems that you use in your business especially those ones that have something to do with the internet such as your email, such as your internet banking, your financial package, social media, those things. And then, I need you to Google each of those apps with the words Multi-Factor Authentication after it and check and make sure that that application does indeed support Multi-Factor Authentication and I can tell you in almost all cases the answer is going to be Yes. And then, I need you to have a look at your user accounts within that platform and make sure that Multi-Factor Authentication is actually turned on and enabled for all users. And it really does need to be all users. We certainly see some people who only like to enable Multi-Factor Authentication for those user accounts that they think are riskier targets or high profile targets. The unfortunate thing though about cyber security is that it often comes down to the weakest link. And the weakest link in terms of your network security maybe that one user account that you didn’t think really needed to have Multi-Factor Authentication turned on. So write the list, do a little bit of Googling and then go and have a look at all the user accounts in those systems and make sure that Multi-Factor Authentication is actually turned on. Of course, if you need any help, your IT people are there to help with this as well.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review where ever you get your podcasts and, until next time, keep powering up.

#019: Three Takeaways from Running a Live Event

Three Big Takeaways from Running a Live EventIn this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

My three takeaways from running our live event, The Small Business Download, in October 2018, including:

〉Being with other people who understand that you “don’t know what you don’t know”

〉The value of collaborative learning

〉Finding the low hanging fruit

〉Join us for a free webinar on 22 November: Office 365 in the Real World


In this episode of The Power Up Project, we recap on The Small Business Download 2018.

Hi. Welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to be recapping on a recent live event that we hosted, called The Small Business Download 2018. This was a fantastic event. It was a learning event which we put on for our clients, our partners, anybody else who wanted to come along. We had a panel of five industry experts, covering a range of business and technology topics, who were there to talk to us, to take questions, do a little bit of workshopping, even, at the end of the night there, around some of the problems and questions that our attendees had.

So what I wanted to share with you today is the three top takeaways that I really got out of the entire thing. The first one, you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, this is obviously a truism which we’ve all heard before, but what I’d say about this is that one of the real values of investing time in events such as The Small Business Download is that it gives the gift of being in the company of other business leaders who recognise that, at some level, there are things that they don’t know, so they are consciously making the decision to invest the time, the money, the effort, to come along to events like this and to learn.

Now, this may sound fairly self-evident to a lot of you out there, but a lot of people do not go out of their comfort zone to put themselves in the situation where they will potentially learn something that they weren’t aware of previously. A lot of people are confident in their own knowledge, a lot of people are quite comfortable that the way they’re doing the job right now is the way that it should be doing, and so they don’t take that next step. So the first lesson that I really learnt out of this is just reinforcing that, that you don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s good to step outside and just expose yourself to some opportunities, cross-industry perhaps, to see what else is happening out in the big wide world.

Lesson number two that I took away from The Small Business Download 2018 is that collaborative learning is powerful. Now, one of the wonderful things about getting all of these people in the room, facilitated by our panel of five experts, was that we had people there across a broad range of industries, across a broad range of organisational profiles of size, of nature. We had some commercial organisations, we had educational institutions, we had non-profits, and everybody was there, sharing in the experience and collaborating together. There was a lot of sharing of stories, war stories in some cases, successes and victories in others. There was a lot of questions that arose from one industry, which interestingly enough, some people were able to map into an entirely different industry, to gain a unique perspective on something that may have been sticking them up for a little while now. So lesson number two was collaborative learning can be powerful, cross-industries, cross-organizations.

And number three, and this is the great one, and this is my important takeaway for you out of this episode, there is plenty of low hanging fruit. So some of the things that we touched on, on the day, in a very tactical sense are, for example, that a lot of people are not using a large part of their Office 365 subscription. A lot of organisations will subscribe to something like Office 365 for a particular component, such as the email for example, but with the money that you are paying every month, there is a vast list of other products and services that you get access to, and a lot of people aren’t even aware of what else is out there and aren’t integrating those things into their business processes or getting any value from them at all. Now, that’s just one very tactical example.

For other people, it was about education. Some of the people I was talking to on the day there, they realised that they already had the tools in place in their business, they already had the technology implemented, they had processes and workflows put in place, but there was a missing piece there, to really drive the organisational change and get the value from the technology, and that was education. They identified that there was a need to bring in some more training for themselves or for their people back at the office on how to use these tools, how to get the most from these systems, and how to really leverage them in their day-to-day operations. So that was another really good piece of low hanging fruit for some people, that a little bit of education and training into the organisation could yield very, very large results.

At the end of the day, though, I think the message that everybody really came away from The Small Business Download 2018 with was that it’s really all about the people. It’s not really about the technology. The technology is just a tool. It’s like giving a builder a hammer. It’s actually the builder who has the skills, the knowledge, the experience, to put together the house. The hammer is just the tool, and it’s the same with all of our organisations. It is all about the people. So we need to not get too distracted by the technology, we need to not get too distracted by the operational metrics we put in place, by all of these other things that we’re told that we need to put in place in the business. Those things are important, don’t get me wrong, but what we really need to do is remember to keep front and centre that everything we are doing here is about the people. It’s about our staff, it’s about our clients, it’s about our suppliers, our industry partners, and our community around us. That’s really what everything came back to on the day.

So thank you for listening to my recap of The Small Business Download 2018. I had three key takeaways for you from that. The one I really want to leave you with as your next action steps out of this episode is that there is plenty of low hanging fruit. Have a look at your subscriptions that you already have in place, such as Office 365, and see if there are parts of that product, parts of that service, that you’re not using and not getting that value from. And the other piece that went there was about education. Have a look at the tools you’re using and your processes, and have a look at your people, and have a think about whether bringing in a little bit of extra training, a little bit of education, mentorship, might actually help your people get a significant amount more value out of the systems that you already have in place.

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