Attackers can obtain stolen credentials in many ways: phishing, malware, social engineering, brute force or black-market purchase. Once attackers have stolen credentials, they can abuse them to enter an organization, move laterally, and escalate privileges for unauthorized applications and data.
Implementing multi-factor authentication on the firewall helps prevent attackers from moving laterally with stolen credentials. MFA allows your organization to protect all types of applications, including legacy applications and client servers. Additionally, authentication that occurs at the firewall, before users connect to applications, moves the line of exposure farther away.
Many organizations have an MFA solution, but it is often challenging and time-consuming to integrate with all applications. As a result, most organizations only use MFA with a handful of applications, such as a VPN gateway or a few cloud applications, leaving many others vulnerable to credential abuse.
MFA is a great tool, but it must be implemented in a way that protects all critical applications. Rather than modifying the applications themselves, use your firewall with MFA policy to control traffic to specific applications. The firewall should be able to control access and require authentication before allowing traffic to pass. Attackers operating inside the organization, even from a compromised endpoint, would not be able to complete the MFA.
Policies for MFA that are created within the firewall should be granular, both in terms of the user and the sensitivity of the application. For example, the policy should match the frequency with which users must re-authenticate to the sensitivity of the application.
Multi-factor authentication as a part of firewall policy improves the speed of implementation, as you only need to integrate MFA within network policy, rather than changing applications themselves. This allows for quicker deployment of protections to meet compliance. MFA on the firewall stops attackers from using stolen credentials or moving laterally within an organization, and protects all types of applications, including legacy applications and client servers.
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