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Balancing User Productivity and Secure Authentication Techniques: 5 Strategies

One constant struggle in offices is the balance between productivity and security. If you give users too much freedom in your network, risk increases. But add too many security gates, and productivity can dwindle.

It’s a fine balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organizations need to recognize the importance of both. And not sacrifice one for another.

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 organizations 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 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 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

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Authentication protocols should be tailored to the level of trust associated with each user. For example, users within the office building may be granted a higher level of trust compared to those logging in from abroad.

To ensure a balance between user productivity and security, contextual authentication in combination with multi-factor authentication (MFA) can be employed. This approach allows for different authentication requirements depending on the user’s location or the time of login, such as implementing additional challenge questions for off-hours access or restricting access for certain geographic regions.

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
  • Location
  • The device used
  • Time of the last login
  • Type of resources accessed

Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution

A study of American employees revealed that they frequently use multiple apps, switching between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. This can be burdensome if a separate multi-factor authentication (MFA) action is required for each login.

Single sign-on (SSO) applications address this issue by consolidating the authentication process for multiple apps into a single login. Employees only need to log in once and complete MFA one time.

The adoption of MFA can be made less cumbersome for users through the use of SSO solutions. These solutions improve security without causing significant inconvenience to users by allowing them to access all their apps at once.

Recognize Devices

Recognizing and managing devices is another effective method for enhancing network security. This can be accomplished through the use of endpoint device management tools, which automate certain aspects of user authentication while minimizing inconvenience to users.

The process begins by registering employee devices in the endpoint device management system. Once registered, security rules can be established, such as automatically blocking unknown devices.

Additionally, implementing device scanning for malware and automated updates can increase security without negatively impacting productivity.

Use Role-based Authentication

Different roles within an organization may have varying levels of access to sensitive information. For example, while a shipping clerk may not require access to customer information, an accounting team member may. Implementing role-based authentication allows setting different authentication barriers based on the user’s role.

This approach streamlines the process of creating new employee accounts. Authentication and access are determined based on the employee’s role, which allows administrators to set permissions and contextual authentication factors once. This process is then automated as soon as an employee’s role is established.

Include Biometric Identification

Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint, retina, or facial scans, is a user-friendly and efficient method of authentication. It eliminates the need for typing in credentials and can be completed in just a few seconds.

Implementing biometric hardware can be cost-prohibitive for some organizations, however, it can be phased in over time, starting with the most sensitive roles, and then expand.

Furthermore, many mobile apps now integrate facial scanning which allows users to authenticate using their typical smartphones, making it more affordable option.

Need Help Improving Authentication Security?

Don’t give up important security because you’re afraid of user pushback. Contact CloudTech24 and schedule a security consultation.

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