Improving your data security may seem like a cumbersome, costly, and confusing venture. But there are plenty of examples in the news making the case for why it should be a higher priority for you in your business. Indeed, hackers are increasingly targeting real estate transactions and preying on small business owners who may lack the online safeguards they need.
Fifty percent of small businesses have been hacked, and 60 percent of those companies say they’ve been hacked more than once, according to studies from the Small Business Administration. Further, a password-protected approach to keeping your information secure is often considered one of the weakest links to online security. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breaches Investigations Report, 81 percent of data breaches in 2016 were traced back to stolen, default, or weak passwords. If passwords have been your main source of protection thus far, you’re not doing nearly enough to protect yourself against today’s vulnerabilities.
But new technology allows you to move beyond a password-only security approach. Lenovo, for example, is announcing the addition of FIDO-certified authenticators into its computers. It’s a game changer that could allow real estate professionals and brokerages to better their safeguard against threats from online hackers.
Understanding the Technology
So what is FIDO? Why should you care? And what type of FIDO-enabled devices do you need?
FIDO stands for Fast Identity Online and comprises a set of widely accepted standards for greater online security. It’s comprised of two common sets of authentication standards. The most commonly used is called Universal Second Factor, also known as two-factor authentication. This may happen when you sign onto an account from one device and the website then sends a signal a separate device you own (like a smartphone or smartwatch) with a code. By entering the code into the initial website, you’ve verified your identity using two-factor authentication.
FIDO’s second authentication standard requires added hardware and relies on biometrics—such as a scan of your fingerprints, eyes, face, or voice—for verification. The add-on device must be built on the User Authentication Framework. Such UAF devices have come down on price in recent years, but still have not broken into the mainstream of public use yet.
FIDO authentication of devices and hardware created to reduce the risks of sending sensitive credentials over the internet is managed by the nonprofit FIDO Alliance.
First in Line
Lenovo is leading a charge to bring FIDO authentication standards directly onto its PCs. Last year, it partnered with Intel to become the first personal computing company to bring FIDO-certified authenticators into Windows devices for safer online authentication while browsing and conducting business online. As Lenovo users log onto websites like Google, Dropbox, Facebook, PayPal, and other online accounts, they’ll have an extra layer of security keeping information secure.
Here’s an example of how it works: You can swipe your finger over an encrypted fingerprint reader on a Lenovo laptop, such as the Yoga 920, to securely log into a site that is compatible with the technology. Also, a built-in U2F two-factor authentication offers an extra step of security by verifying your identity when you click a special designated button when logging onto websites.
While Lenovo officials are proud to be at the forefront of this new technology, others in the industry are also happy to see this alliance take root.
“I am thrilled to see the realization of this partnership between FIDO Alliance board members Intel and Lenovo, which resulted in the PC industry’s first FIDO-enabled embedded fingerprint [reader] and now includes support for all FIDO protocols on several new leading PC models,” said Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance. “It reinforces FIDO authentication as the de facto standard technology to move the world beyond passwords, across all internet-connected devices.”
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