The Importance of MFA for Nonprofits

Key takeaways:
  1. MFA Should ALWAYS be Used When Available: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) significantly enhances cybersecurity by integrating multiple verification layers, acting as a robust defense against cyber intrusions, which is especially vital for nonprofits managing sensitive data.
  2. MFA Can Block 99.9% of all Cyberattacks: Research from Microsoft underscores MFA’s critical role, revealing that a second verification factor can block 99.9% of cyberattacks
  3. Alarming Cybersecurity Statistics: The cybersecurity landscape is fraught with threats, evidenced by the fact that one in three American accounts has been hacked, and 81% of breaches result from weak or stolen passwords, highlighting the urgent need for robust cybersecurity mechanisms like MFA.
  4. MFA Types: Understanding and strategically selecting from various MFA types, each offering different security levels, is crucial for organizations, especially nonprofits, to ensure robust cybersecurity that aligns with their operational needs and user accessibility.
  5. Challenges in MFA Adoption: Despite its criticality, MFA adoption faces challenges like perceived costs, resource allocation, and concerns about user accessibility, necessitating a nuanced approach that emphasizes its long-term strategic benefits.


For every organization, safeguarding data is paramount, especially for nonprofits that manage a plethora of sensitive information. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is like a sentinel, requiring users to validate their identity through multiple verification layers, thereby significantly enhancing security protocols. For nonprofits, where data integrity is synonymous with donor trust, adopting MFA is not merely a technological shift but a commitment to secure information that preserves the ability to raise funds.

The Cybersecurity Landscape: A Battlefield of Data Breaches

In the vast expanse of the digital domain, a silent war wages against invisible adversaries, where data breaches, ransomware, and phishing attacks are the weapons of choice. The convenience and connectivity offered by the digital world come at the cost of exposing sensitive data to relentless cyber threats.

A chilling statistic reveals that one in three American accounts has fallen victim to hacking, while a whopping 81% of breaches are orchestrated through weak or stolen passwords. This is not merely a number but a warning bell, signaling the need for fortified cybersecurity mechanisms.

Nonprofits often operate with limited resources and potentially lesser security infrastructures and navigate a particularly precarious path in this tumultuous digital landscape. The data they hold, from donor details to financial transactions to healthcare information, is not just sensitive but also a lucrative target for cybercriminals, making the case for enhanced cybersecurity mechanisms like MFA even more compelling.

MFA: A Pillar of Robust Cybersecurity

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), a crucial component in the digital security framework, provides a robust defense against cyber intrusions by integrating multiple verification layers. It’s not merely an additional security layer but a comprehensive protocol that intertwines various verification methods, ensuring unauthorized access is thwarted even if one identification form is compromised.

  • Operational Principle of MFA:
    • MFA combines something the user knows (password), has (a device), and biometric data to establish a secure authentication process.
  • Proven Efficacy:
    • MFA blocks 99.9% of automated cyberattacks and neutralizes 96% of bulk phishing attempts, substantiating its efficacy with compelling statistics and real-world impact.
  • Industry Insights:
    • Research from Microsoft underscores MFA’s critical role, revealing that a second verification factor can block 99.9% of cyberattacks, emphasizing its pivotal role in safeguarding digital entities.
  • Deterrent and Defensive Mechanism:
    • Beyond being a defensive mechanism, MFA also acts as a deterrent, redirecting cybercriminals to easier targets and providing an additional layer of protection.
  • Cornerstone in Cybersecurity:
    • MFA is not just a tool but a foundational element in cybersecurity, especially vital for nonprofits, ensuring digital platforms are securely shielded from a myriad of cyber threats.

MFA is a steadfast guardian in the continually evolving cyber threat landscape, ensuring that digital entities, particularly in the nonprofit sector, are securely fortified against cyber threats.

MFA Adoption: A Surge Towards Secure Authentication

Embarking on a path towards fortified digital security, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) has seen a remarkable surge in adoption, escalating by a noteworthy 178% from 2017. Last year alone, MFA was utilized by 78% of accounts as a pivotal mechanism for securing information, reflecting a burgeoning reliance on this enhanced security protocol.

While the upward trajectory in MFA adoption is a positive signal, there is a compelling need to ensure that this trend is not merely sustained but amplified, propelling all sectors towards a secure digital future where authentication security is embedded and prioritized within their operational frameworks.

MFA Types: From Most Secure to Least

Navigating through the various types of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) involves understanding the distinct security levels each method offers. Below, we explore different MFA types, ranked from the most secure to the least, to assist organizations in selecting an authentication method that best aligns with their security requirements:

  • FIDO2 Keys (Security level highest): FIDO2 keys, also known as security keys or USB keys, are physical devices that must be inserted into a computer and are usually touched by the person logging in after entering a password. They are considered the pinnacle of MFA security due to their inherent resistance to common cyber threats like phishing. FIDO2 keys do not rely on receiving information through potentially insecure channels (like SMS or email) and require the user to have the physical key, thereby significantly enhancing security.
  • Authenticator App Keys (Security level high): Authenticator apps, such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator, generate time-sensitive, one-time-use codes that users input during the login process. These apps are typically installed on a user’s mobile device and provide a secure authentication method without relying on potentially vulnerable communication channels. The time-sensitive nature of the codes also adds an additional layer of security, reducing the risk of unauthorized access even if a code is somehow intercepted.
  • Phone Call (Security level moderate): Phone call authentication involves the user receiving a call during the login process. The user typically has to interact with the call (such as pressing a button) to confirm their identity and proceed with the login. While this method avoids some of the vulnerabilities of SMS and email, it can still be exploited through SIM swapping or if the user’s phone is compromised, thereby placing it in the mid-range in terms of security.
  • Text Message (SMS) Keys (Security level fair): SMS authentication involves sending a code via text message to the user’s mobile device, which must be entered to gain access. While widely used due to its convenience, SMS is susceptible to various security threats, including SIM swapping, interception attacks, and mobile phone malware, making it less secure than some other MFA methods.
  • Email Keys (Security level least secure): Email authentication involves sending a code or link to the user’s email address, which must be used to authenticate their identity. This method is considered the least secure MFA type due to the susceptibility of email accounts to hacking and phishing attacks. Additionally, the widespread issue of email-based threats, such as spear-phishing, further compromises the security integrity of this method, making it a less recommended option for safeguarding sensitive platforms.

Each MFA type comes with its unique characteristics and security levels, thereby necessitating a thorough understanding and strategic selection based on an organization’s specific cybersecurity needs and user accessibility considerations. This becomes especially pivotal for nonprofits, ensuring that their chosen MFA method not only fortifies their digital platforms against cyber threats but also aligns seamlessly with their operational dynamics.

Navigating Through Challenges in MFA Adoption

While crucial, the path toward widespread Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adoption is sometimes hindered by various challenges, particularly in perceived costs, resource allocation, and user accessibility. These challenges, often magnified in organizations like nonprofits with constrained budgets and resources, necessitate a nuanced approach to navigate through them effectively.

  • Always use MFA:
  • Cost Misconception: While implementing MFA in-house can be costly, many vendors already have MFA features built-in, eliminating the need for separate rollouts.
  • Leverage Built-in Features: The key is to activate and utilize the built-in MFA options provided by vendors, ensuring enhanced security without incurring additional costs.
  • Prioritize MFA: Always opt for services that offer MFA, and when available, make it the primary authentication method, sidelining other less secure options. Avoid services that don’t prioritize this essential security feature.
  • Addressing Challenges:
  • Overcoming MFA Adoption Hurdles: Nonprofits often encounter resistance in implementing MFA due to concerns like personal phone usage for authentication, with common pushback including staff not having or wanting to use personal phones for work-related security. There are many MFA options to choose from to fit your unique needs, so pay attention to employee needs and choose an acceptable solution.
  • Expanding Device Options: It’s pivotal to note that MFA doesn’t strictly necessitate using a personal phone; any mobile device, such as tablets or smartwatches, can be utilized for authentication, offering flexibility and addressing concerns related to personal phone usage. Additionally, an office phone could be used for the phone call MFA method.
  • Prioritizing Security: Despite the challenges and pushbacks, the imperative nature of cybersecurity means that nonprofits must navigate through these objections, ensuring that MFA implementation is not halted, thereby safeguarding sensitive data effectively.

Addressing these challenges involves not only navigating through the practical aspects of MFA implementation but also ensuring that its strategic benefits, such as safeguarding organizational reputation and ensuring the integrity of digital operations, are communicated effectively across the organization.

A Call for Robust Cybersecurity Through MFA

The ability of MFA to safeguard digital platforms is unmatched by any other cybersecurity method widely available. Nonprofits entrusted with protecting vital and often sensitive data must prioritize adopting MFA to fortify their digital defenses.

With tca SynerTech, nonprofits find a reliable ally, offering robust MFA solutions and a team of IT professionals, ensuring a seamless and cost-effective transition to enhanced cybersecurity. Starting at less than the cost of a single entry-level employee, with TCA, you can hire an entire team of experts to help keep you safe in the modern world.