5 Ways to balance user productivity with solid authentication protocols

A photograph of a woman holding a smartphone.

With the increasing cost and frequency of cyberattacks, more and more businesses are looking closely at their cybersecurity practices.

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 delicate balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organizations need to recognize the importance of both and not sacrifice one for another. We've collected 5 tips for increasing login security while diminishing login inconveniences.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped clients develop effective cybersecurity practices and utilize useful cybersecurity tools.

By reading this article, you will learn why companies are hesitant to adopt more secure login tools and alternative authentication security procedures.


Why don't companies use authentication protocols?

Often, companies say user inconvenience is one of the biggest reasons they do not apply security protocols.

For example, multi-factor authentication (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.

A recent report from Microsoft notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Only 22% of Azure Active Directory users had enabled MFA. As a result, over three-quarters of users were at a much higher risk of an account breach.

We know that 35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials. So, the risk of becoming a breach victim is high if you're not protecting your authentication process.

MFA is proven to be as much as 99.9% effective at stopping fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many companies aren't adopting it.


5 Solutions to improve security without sacrificing convenience

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.

1. Use contextual authentication rules

Not every user needs to go through the same authentication process.

For example, if someone is working in your building, they have a level of trust. However, 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.

For example, you may limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a specific 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 regular 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

2. Install a single sign-on (SSO) solution

A report on U.S. employees found they use a lot of apps. Workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. Using an MFA action for each of those logins may be inconvenient.

Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. As a result, employees log in once and can go through MFA a single time.

With SSO, MFA sign-in isn't nearly as inconvenient. Users gain access to everything at the same time. SSO solutions help organizations improve their security without all the pushback from users.

3. Recognize devices

Another way to better secure network access is to recognize devices. This is typically done using an endpoint device manager.

An endpoint device manager 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 set up security rules, such as automatically blocking unknown devices.

You can also put in place device scanning for malware and automated updates. Both these things increase security without sacrificing productivity.

4. Use role-based 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.

For example, your shipping clerk may not have access to sensitive customer information, but your accounting team does. One can have a lower barrier to authentication.

5. Consider adding biometrics

One of the most convenient forms of authentication is biometrics, which could 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 organization, but you can introduce it over time. For example, perhaps you start using biometrics with your most sensitive roles first, then expanding it to more departments over time.

Additionally, many apps are now incorporating things like facial scanning. As a result, users can authenticate using a typical smartphone, making biometric authentication much more affordable.


Next steps for improving authentication security

All businesses need to have some level of authentication security measures. Multi-factor authentication is an effective tool for preventing unauthorized logins.

However, some companies hesitate to use it because they feel it's inconvenient and, therefore, could cost them productivity.

If you don't want to use MFA for every application, some other authentication security tools or settings you could use include:

  1. Contextual authentication rules
  2. Single sign-on (SSO)
  3. Recognized devices
  4. Role-based authentication
  5. Biometrics

Any of these tools or a combination of these settings will help increase security and help decrease risk.

As an IT Provider, WEBIT Services has seen the effectiveness of security-minded culture. It's part of the reason WEBIT is passionate about education on technology and cybersecurity.

If you're looking for a new IT provider or more information on security procedures, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with WEBIT.

If you're not ready to talk to our team of experts but would like to learn more about cybersecurity, we recommend the following articles: