Return to SMS as Security Feature

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New research by California IT service management company Okta has found an increase in the use of SMS as a security feature during the Covid-19 health crisis.

The finding emerged from the latest "Businesses at Work" report, which analyzed the login activity of Okta’s 9,400 customers to reveal the ways in which companies have improved their security posture in response to the pandemic. 

Analysis of the data revealed that although use of SMS as a security feature dropped from 53% two years ago to 49% today, its use grew 116% between February and October 2020.  

During the same period, use of MFA factor and authenticator app Okta Verify increased 184%, compared to just 28% over the previous six months.

Researchers noted that companies invested heavily in people-centric security tools last year. The deployment of security-awareness training tools such as KnowBe4 grew 46% since the start of 2020, and 194% in the past two years. 

Out of more than 6,500 apps, 1Password was Okta’s tenth fastest growing app in 2020. Usage of the app has increased by 582% in the past two years.

According to the report, the top five most popular people-centric security tools were KnowBe4, MimeCast, Envoy, LastPass, and Proofpoint.

"Visitor management tool Envoy is an interesting case," noted an Okta spokesperson. "With sharp drops in workers’ physical presence in offices, but growing concerns about managing the number of workers in a space at one time, Envoy—Okta’s eighth fastest growing app last year—grew 32% in the past year." 

A key finding to emerge from the data analysis was that to accommodate a distributed workforce,  organizations adopted new security strategies like Zero Trust and modern firewalls.

The most popular network-centric security tools in 2020 were Palo Alto Networks, Cisco AnyConnect, and Netskope.

Use of Palo Alto Networks, which provides enterprise security protection to mobile users, grew 1983% over the past three years. Over the same period, secure endpoint access provider Cisco AnyConnect grew 1130%, with 46% of that growth occurring since the end of February 2020. 

Use of Netskope, which provides contextual security and mitigates cloud-enabled threats, grew 74% in the past year.

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