MFA Fatigue & How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

February 19, 2023
6 min

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an important security measure that can help protect your accounts and sensitive information from being compromised. However, in certain misconfigurations, users experience what is known as "MFA fatigue," where the constant "Approve or Deny" prompts can become overwhelming. In this post, we'll explore what MFA fatigue is, how it works, and why you should consider switching away from push notification MFA methods.

What is MFA fatigue?

MFA fatigue is a phenomenon where users become overwhelmed or frustrated with the constant "Approve or Deny" prompts. This can happen when users are required to enter an MFA code every time they log in to an application or service, or when push notifications are sent for every login attempt. Over time, this can lead to a decrease in security, as users may become more likely to just "Approve" the MFA prompts, or may turn off MFA altogether.

How does MFA fatigue work?

MFA fatigue can occur for a number of reasons. One of the primary causes is the frequency of MFA prompts and notifications. If users are required to click "Approve" at every login attempt, this can quickly become tedious and frustrating. In addition, users may quickly become overwhelmed with the volume of notifications they receive.

Why switch away from push notification MFA services?

Push notification MFA services, where a notification is sent to a user's mobile device for each login attempt, can be a particular cause of MFA fatigue. While push notifications are convenient and easy to use, they can quickly become overwhelming for users, leading to frustration.

Case studies have shown the importance of MFA in preventing account takeover and data breaches. For example, a report by Microsoft found that users who enabled MFA on their accounts experienced 99.9% fewer account compromises than users who did not.

However, in a recent incident involving a large financial institution demonstrated the dangers of MFA fatigue. In this case, the institution required its employees to enter click "Approve" or "Deny" for every login attempt. An attacker constantly tried to login as a valid user, therefore sending push notifications to the user's phone. The user ultimately clicked "Approve" which allowed attackers to gain access to the institution's systems and steal sensitive data.

While MFA is an important security measure that can help protect your accounts and sensitive information, it's important to be aware of MFA fatigue and the potential risks associated with push notification MFA services. By switching to more secure and less prone to fatigue MFA methods, such as physical tokens or TOTP, users can increase their security and reduce the risk of account takeover and data breaches.

How We Can Help

At FalconOps, we offer comprehensive penetration testing services that can help identify MFA fatigue, as well as other misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in your organization's security posture. Our expert team will work with you to tailor our testing services to meet the specific needs of your organization and provide actionable recommendations for remediation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help improve your organization's security.

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