Security is no longer the killer of usability

21 December 2021

Employees have to deal with user-unfriendly security measures on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many IT organizations are still insufficiently aware of the fact that a secure work environment and a good digital experience go hand in hand. In fact, the right security measures - if implemented properly - can even give this experience a boost. But how do you tackle this?

The Dutch Personal Data Authority recently sounded the alarm about the increasing number of cases of data theft in the Netherlands. In addition, recent research shows that in almost half of the cases employees bypass security measures in order to work. One possible reason? The user-unfriendly security measures, causing employees to look for easier solutions themselves.

Keeping the hassle away from users

Fortunately, we're past the time where there was no - or very limited - choice for safe and user friendly digital workplaces. In fact, there are several options for IT organizations to choose from. Regardless of product or supplier, the essence of this desired combination is to keep security away from the end user. After all, every interaction forms an opportunity for malicious parties to make their move. By placing the vast majority of security measures in backend, users are given low-threshold access to their digital workplace at the front end. Solutions where users are presented with few - or even none at all - passwords are becoming more prevalent.

SSO for the digital workplace is a way to set up access management for devices and applications that is both secure and user-friendly. Organizations can also choose to add an extra security layer in the form of MFA. To prevent users from becoming frustrated, however, it is necessary to look closely at the user-friendliness of this extra authentication option. For example, a good option is to use biometrics from a device that the user uses anyway, think fingerprint or facial recognition, or a push to a smartwatch.

The 'good old' password manager can be a valuable addition in further optimizing the security approach. Many organizations often still work with a large number of applications that are not linked to the SSO implementation, but may contain business-sensitive data. As long as not all business-critical data is securely located behind the SSO portal, a password manager offers added value. In addition, it can contribute to increasing the personal digital security of employees who will also regularly work from home in the future. This also reduces the risk of an attack within the business IT domain.


We remain human, after all

But security is more than just tools. Creating more awareness for security remains of great importance. With security incidents, in many cases the Achilles heel is human. Research shows that less than half of Dutch hybrid employees indicate that security should be a key priority. By providing employees with clear guidance, compliance with security rules can be greatly improved.

Within the Dutch IT landscape, there is still much to be gained in the area of security when it comes to optimizing the digital experience and awareness among employees. It's time that security is more than the application of needlessly complicated security measures that give a false sense of security. That way, organizations can ensure that security is no longer the killer of usability. And that the user's drive for usability no longer kills security.

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