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Cisco Duo Vs Microsoft MFA

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is essential for enhancing organisational security. Cisco Duo and Microsoft Authenticator are two leading apps providing this protection.

What is 2FA?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security process that requires users to provide two different authentication factors to verify their identity. This method adds an extra layer of protection beyond just a password.

The two factors typically include something the user knows (a password) and something the user has (a smartphone app, hardware token) or something the user is (biometric data like fingerprints). Requiring two verification forms, 2FA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access to sensitive information.

How does Cisco Duo and Microsoft MFA work?

Cisco Duo verifies user identity through push notifications, time-based one-time passwords (TOTP), physical tokens, and biometrics. Microsoft Multifactor Authenticator (MFA) offers similar features with push notifications and one-time passcodes, and it integrates with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory).

Despite their similarities, key differences between Cisco Duo and Microsoft MFA can influence which solution is better suited for your organisation.

Cisco Duo and Microsoft MFA are two popular 2FA solutions. Both support push notifications and one-time passcodes. Cisco Duo offers extensive integrations with various products and services, while Microsoft MFA primarily integrates with Microsoft products.

How much do they cost?

Both applications provide backup and recovery options. Cisco Duo has a free trial and starts at $3 per user per month, whereas Microsoft MFA is free but bundled with Microsoft Entra ID and 365 Business accounts both starting from £4.90 per user per month.

Application Programming Interface Integration

Enterprise organisations considering Cisco Duo or Microsoft MFA often must integrate these apps with existing or custom software and server applications.

Cisco Duo supports unlimited application integrations across all its editions, providing extensive flexibility. Microsoft MFA, while capable of integrating with third-party products, is easily integrated with Microsoft-supported services due to its bundling with them.

Security Features

Both Duo and Microsoft Authenticator offer robust security features. Cisco Duo includes adaptive authentication, which assesses login risk and prompts for additional verification when necessary, along with granular access policies.

Microsoft MFA, using Microsoft Entra ID (Azure Active Directory), provides advanced security features such as conditional access policies, risk-based authentication, and seamless single sign-on across applications. It also supports hardware-backed security keys to enhance protection against phishing.

Authentication Methods

Cisco Duo and Microsoft Authenticator offer multiple authentication methods. Duo provides push notifications, biometrics, tokens, passcodes, and hardware security keys. Microsoft Authenticator supports push notifications, one-time passcodes (OTPs), and biometric authentication (fingerprint and facial recognition) on supported devices.

Backup and Recovery

Cisco Duo’s Restore feature enables users to back up Duo-protected and third-party OTP accounts to cloud services like iCloud and Google Drive, facilitating recovery on the same or new devices. Similarly, Microsoft Authenticator offers backup and recovery options that securely store accounts and settings in the Microsoft cloud, allowing for easy restoration on new devices or in case of device loss.

Comparing Duo and Microsoft Authenticator: Benefits and Drawbacks

Cisco Duo offers numerous benefits and a few drawbacks. On the plus side, it supports single sign-on, passwordless authentication, multiple authentication methods, push phishing protection, threat detection, and backup and recovery features.

However, it has limitations, such as Cisco Duo Free accounts being restricted to 10 users and a slightly cluttered user interface in some areas due to various authentication options Microsoft Authenticator offers powerful two-factor authentication features, but some drawbacks must be considered.

The pros include passwordless sign-in, push notifications through the mobile app, use as a software token, and backup and recovery support. However, multi-factor report options are only available in higher plans, the pricing model can be complex for some users, and it may not be ideal for companies outside the Microsoft ecosystem.

Choosing the Right 2FA Solution

Choosing between Cisco Duo and Microsoft Authenticator for 2FA can be challenging due to their similarities. Your decision should consider your technology stack, ease of use, and pricing.

If your organisation relies heavily on Microsoft products like Microsoft Entra ID (Azure Active Directory) and Microsoft 365, Microsoft Authenticator offers seamless integration. Equally, Cisco Duo’s broad compatibility with various platforms and applications, such as Slack, Atlassian, Salesforce, and Dropbox, makes it a versatile option.

Additionally, evaluate the pricing models: Cisco Duo’s transparent pricing versus Microsoft Authenticator’s bundling with Microsoft subscriptions, ensuring they meet your business needs and budget.

If you need advice or help with setting up and configuring 2FA Performance Networks can help. Our network security technicians are experienced with Cisco Duo and its implementation into many different networks.

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