MYOB wants two-factor authentication mandatory for all online financial service providers

With nearly one third of local SMEs – potentially up to 150,000 businesses – having experienced a cyberattack and a majority of SME operators expressing fears about cyber security, accounting software provider MYOB is calling on the Government to address online security in the financial sector.

“That’s why we’re calling on the New Zealand Government to follow the example of the Australian Taxation Office and make two-factor authentication a mandatory standard for all online financial service providers,” says MYOB country manager Ingrid Cronin-Knight.

“By making two-factor authentication mandatory in the areas New Zealand business owners need the highest levels of protection such as financial and accounting services, we can take steps to protect our economy from the growing international threat of cybercrime,” she says.

This means instead of relying on just a password to determine a user’s identity, two-factor authentication uses an additional device, such as a text code sent to a smartphone app, or even a physical characteristic like a fingerprint, to provide another layer of access protection.

Cronin-Knight says MYOB introduced mandatory two-factor authentication on all its products in Australia last year and made the same features available to New Zealand users on a voluntary basis.

Ingrid Cronin-Knight

From next month, the company will make the system mandatory in New Zealand.

"This is just one of the advanced security and monitoring systems we have in place to protect our users,” says Cronin-Knight.

“While we appreciate that it will create another step in providing access for users, making two-factor authentication mandatory is a massive leap forward in security by further reducing the risk of compromise,” she adds.

“It’s an effective way to protect data, and a critical step in running a business responsibly.”

The authentication apps supported by MYOB are Google Authenticator (for Android and iOS), Microsoft Authenticator (for Windows), and Authy (for Android and iOS, plus any device running the Chrome browser).

MYOB's implementation of two-factor authentication also supports authentication via email, but the use of a mobile app is recommended.

“As well as the heightened risks for business, international changes to data protection and privacy legislation means there is an increasing expectation that organisations take steps to protect personal and sensitive data,” says Cronin-Knight.

In its Operational Framework for Digital Services Providers released late last year, the Australian Taxation Office mandates the use of multifactor - including two-factor - authentication by cloud-based accounting systems.

Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker says Netsafe supports initiatives to increase the adoption of improved security practices such as two-factor authentication that will help Kiwis have a safer experience online.

“Two-factor authentication is a simple and practical measure that provides additional protection against hackers and fraudsters and decreases the risk of unauthorised access to online accounts,” he says.

He points out recent research from InternetNZ shows that only 30 per cent of NZ adults use two-factor authentication on any or all accounts where it is available.

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