5 Ways to Balance User Productivity with Solid Authentication Protocols
One constant struggle in the workplace today, is the balance between productivity and security. If you give end users too much freedom in your network, the risk increases. But adding too many security gates and hoops to jump through, and productivity can dwindle.
It’s a fine balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organisations need to recognise the importance of both, and should not be sacrificing one for the other.
A recent report from Microsoft notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Just 22% of Azure Active Directory users had multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled. This means that over three-quarters were at a much higher risk of an account breach.
Why do organisations fail to adopt important security protocols, like MFA? We know that it’s as much as 99.9% effective at stopping fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many companies aren’t adopting it.
User inconvenience is the biggest reason. MFA is not expensive. In fact, it’s free to enable in nearly all cloud applications. But if users say that it’s hurting productivity and is a pain to use, companies may just simply not bother with it.
But sacrificing security can hurt productivity worse. Downtime due to a data breach is expensive and can put smaller companies out of business. The main cause of data breaches is credential compromise. So, if you’re not protecting your authentication process, the risk of becoming a breach victim is very high.
35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials.
There are ways to have both secure and productive users. It simply takes adopting some solutions that can help. These are tools that improve authentication security. But do it in a way that keeps user convenience in mind.
Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience
Using Contextual Authentication Rules
Not every user needs to go through the same authentication process. If someone is working in your building, they already have a certain trust factor. If someone is attempting to log in from outside the country, they do not have that same trust.
Contextual authentication is used with MFA to target users that need to reach a higher bar. You may choose to limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a certain region. Or you may need to add an additional challenge question for users logging in after work hours.
Companies don’t need to inconvenience people working from normal locations during typical hours. But they can still verify those logging in under non-typical circumstances. Some of the contextual factors you can use include:
- Time of day
- The device used
- Time of the last login
- Type of resources accessed
Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution
A recent report on UK employees found they use a lot of different applications. Workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of inconvenience if they need to use an MFA action for each of those logins.
Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. Employees log in once and can go through MFA a single time.
Using multi-factor authentication isn’t nearly as inconvenient. Users gain access to everything at the same time. SSO solutions help organisations improve their security without all the pushback from users.
Recognise End Devices
Another way to better secure network access is to recognise end user devices. This is typically done using an endpoint device manager. This automates some of the security behind user authentication. Thus, it doesn’t inconvenience the person.
First, register employee devices in the endpoint device manager. Once completed, you can then set up security rules. Such as blocking unknown devices automatically.
You can also put in place device scanning for malware and automated updates. Both these things increase security without sacrificing productivity.
Going a step further you can run a posture assessment against the device to ensure the latest Windows patches have been applied, before allowing the device onto the network.
Use Role-based Authentication
Your receptionist may not have access to sensitive customer information, but your accounting team does. One can have a lower barrier to authentication.
Using role-based authentication saves time when setting up new employee accounts. Authentication and access happen based on the person’s role. Admins can program permissions and contextual authentication factors once. Then, the process automates as soon as an employee has their role set.
Consider Adding Biometrics
One of the most convenient forms of authentication is biometrics. This would be a fingerprint, retina, or facial scan. The user doesn’t need to type in anything. It also takes just a few seconds.
Biometric hardware can be costly, depending on the size of your organisation. But you can introduce it over time. Perhaps using biometrics with your most sensitive roles first, then expanding as you deploy newer devices. Most new Laptops today include a camera, which can be used with Windows inbuilt “Hello” authentication, which is a Windows based Enterprise-Grade identity verification system, ready to use, out-of-the-box… and it just works!
Do You Need Help Improving Authentication Security Within your Business?
Don’t give up important security because you’re afraid of user pushback, or you’re not quite sure where to start. Give us a call and schedule a security consultation, and we’ll talk through all the options that are a right fit for your unique ways of working.