Utilizing a VPN to protect your company’s remote network access is a standard procedure in many organizations, and the WatchGuard VPN is one of the most popular options on the market. But is your VPN as secure as it could be? If your VPN doesn’t have Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) implemented, you could be at serious risk for a data breach or ransomware attack.
In this article, we’ll talk about why MFA is critical to protecting your remote network functions, and how to ensure your WatchGuard MFA protocols are enabled correctly.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA is a log-in process that requires users to provide more than one type of access credential in order to prove they are who they say they are. In most cases, users are asked to provide something they know (like a password) and something they have (like a one-time password generated by a hardware or software token in their possession). It can also include something a user “is”, such as a biometric identity, and passwordless authentication has been gaining ground as a way to remove the “something you know” factor from authentication entirely.
Why does your company need MFA for your WatchGuard VPN
Companies need MFA protocols as they are a simple and secure first line of defense against hackers trying to gain unauthorized access to systems and applications. MFA is a critical way companies can protect themselves against the effects of stolen or compromised credentials, which continues to be the most frequent cause of data breaches and ransomware attacks.
MFA is especially important to add to remote network systems like the WatchGuard VPN. VPNs are powerful tools for the same reason they are risky tools — they can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world. As an IT administrator, it’s key to ensure that you’re leveraging the accessibility power of your WatchGuard VPN while ensuring that it’s only the right users who are accessing it.
How can you make sure your WatchGuard MFA is enabled correctly?
As an IT administrator, implementing MFA onto your VPN can initially feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Getting prepared before you undertake the actual implementation is a great way to reduce the initial friction of installation and rollout onto your network. Below are some things to think about before starting the process:
Find out who has access to the VPN
Make sure you have a clear understanding of everyone at your company who accesses the VPN, including privileged users, regular employees, and third-party contractors. All of them will need to be issued MFA tokens and possibly be shown how the new login process works. It might be a good idea to segment users into groups and roll out the MFA protocols one group at a time, that way you’re managing the rollout in a more controlled way and can deal with any issues that might arise in a more organized manner.
Identify configuration requirements
It’s a good idea to get a clear picture of what the steps are to implementing the MFA protocols on your existing infrastructure, including what existing tools it’s going to leverage, such as Active Directory, what ports need to be open, and if it requires a virtual machine or other installations.
Decide on authentication options
There are many different methods that users can use to prove that second layer of authentication. It’s up to you to decide which ones you want to offer to your users. If your company has a BYOD policy, maybe authenticator apps will be no problem to install. If not, perhaps you’ll also need to acquire some physical hardware tokens or find another workaround for authentication methods. You might want to consider getting your employees involved with a team kick-off meeting or a pre-deployment survey.
Now that you understand the importance of having MFA implemented on your WatchGuard VPN, and you have some things to think about in terms of implementation details, all that’s left to do is decide on a solution and start rolling it out.
MFA is a must-have tool for your remote access needs, and taking the first steps towards better cybersecurity protocols will put you ahead of most companies today and protect you from the long-term harm and ramifications of data breaches and ransomware attacks.