Authentication Security vs. User Productivity: A Tale as Old as Time

Finding the right balance between productivity and security in the workplace is always a struggle, especially regarding user authentication protocols.Too much freedom in your systems can boost productivity but increase security risks. At the same time, more security measures can slow down productivity. A balance can be challenging, especially for small businesses with little IT support.All types of organizations need to recognize the value of productivity and security and not have to choose between the two.Microsoft just released a report showing a significant lack of authentication security – only 22% of Azure Active Directory users have multi-factor authentication (MFA). This leaves a considerable number of users open to potential hacking.Even though MFA is incredibly effective at stopping fraud (by as much as 99.9%), many companies still don’t use it. The main reason is that users find it inconvenient and annoying, which makes companies reluctant to turn it on.But here’s the thing, not having strong security can hurt productivity more in the long run. Data breaches can cause significant downtime and even put small businesses out of business. The number one cause of breaches is hackers stealing credentials, which is why protecting the authentication process is so important.35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials. Balancing security and productivity can be achieved by implementing solutions that prioritize both. It’s important to adopt tools that enhance authentication security while considering its impact on user convenience.

Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Not every user requires the same level of authentication. Physical location, device trust, and time of day are just a few mechanisms you can use to strengthen your company’s security policy.Contextual authentication, in conjunction with MFA, can provide a more targeted approach to authentication. For example, you can restrict or block access for users attempting to log in from a specific region.This allows for a more streamlined authentication process for users accessing systems from trusted locations and during typical work hours. Additionally, it still ensures the security of sensitive information for those accessing the systems under non-typical circumstances. Factors that can determine contextual authentication include the time of day, location, the device used, last login time, and type of resources accessed.Here at Hermetic Networks, we offer all our Managed Services customers tailored contextual authentication solutions using MFA to balance security and convenience for users accessing systems from varying levels of trust.

Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution

According to a study on U.S. employees, they frequently switch between a multitude of apps, averaging 13 apps with 30 switches per day. This constant need for multiple logins can prove to be cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if a separate MFA process is required for each login.Single sign-on (SSO) applications offer a solution to this challenge by consolidating the authentication process for multiple apps into a single login. This allows employees to log in just once and complete the MFA process only once, streamlining the process and improving efficiency.Implementing SSO helps organizations enhance their security without causing undue inconvenience to their users, as accessing multiple apps becomes effortless with a single, simplified authentication process.

Recognize Devices

Device trust and recognition is one way to reduce security risks. Typically facilitated by an endpoint device manager, this automation of security measures streamlines the authentication process, allowing users to access resources without added inconvenience.To implement this security solution, devices owned by employees must be registered with the endpoint device manager, and security rules can be established, such as automatically blocking unknown devices.In addition, endpoint device management can include regular device scanning for malware and automated software updates, improving security without negatively impacting productivity. 

Use Role-based Authentication

By assigning authentication and access privileges based on an employee’s role, you can streamline the setup process for new hires.Simply program the permissions and authentication factors for each role once. The system will automatically enforce these rules for each employee as soon as their role is assigned. This way, you can ensure that only those with the appropriate level of access have access to sensitive information.

Consider Adding Biometrics

Biometric authentication is a convenient way to verify user identity. Instead of typing in a password, users can simply scan their fingerprint, retina, or face. This process is quick and easy for users.Introducing biometric hardware can be expensive for larger organizations, but can be implemented gradually starting with the most sensitive roles. Plus, more and more apps now offer facial scanning using just a regular smartphone, making it a more affordable option.

Need Help Improving Authentication Security?

Don’t give up on important security because you’re afraid of user push back. Give us a call and schedule a security consultation.

Jeff Hughes

Jeff Hughes

Having a reliable and enthusiastic partner in the IT services and solutions sector is imperative for achieving sustained business growth through effective technological strategies. Jeff Hughes, the CEO of Hermetic Networks, is wholeheartedly committed to assisting clients in optimizing their technology resources to maintain a competitive edge within their respective industries. Within Hermetic Networks, Jeff collaborates closely with a team of dedicated professionals who are deeply committed to delivering exceptional IT security services and solutions. Leveraging his extensive expertise and practical experience, Jeff ensures that clients receive unparalleled support and guidance for their IT security initiatives. When you choose Hermetic Networks as your partner, you can have confidence in our ability to enhance your business systems, helping you stay at the forefront of today's highly competitive business landscape.