How More Secure Technology Can Backfire And Harm Your Technology

By   Misan Etchie
, | Nov 11, 2021 05:56 am PST

With each new technological advancement, enterprises rush to keep up with the ever-changing ideas of security. While it is understandable that enterprises want to keep up with the times in order to secure themselves against cybersecurity attacks and their ever-increasing sophistication, a bombardment of cybersecurity information can easily backfire and cause a phenomenon known as ‘security fatigue’. 

Security fatigue, as the name implies, is the emotional or intellectual exhaustion that comes from continually dealing with cybersecurity policies or tools. This desensitization experienced by employees, when it comes to cybersecurity and safe practices has been proven to be a huge problem in cybersecurity. The reluctance to deal with the constant demands and requirements of cybersecurity processes results in employees taking easier, though admittedly riskier decisions regarding their cybersecurity. 

We know that a large percentage of security breaches can be traced back to employee behavior. Consequently, if security fatigue is able to harm enterprise security, it is an issue that should be taken seriously and solved sooner than later. Any well-designed information security program that will be put in place to overcome employee security fatigue must carefully balance the positive effects of security protocols, training, and complex systems with the adverse effects that can arise when employees feel overwhelmed by information they cannot process and actions they will not take. 

Another major factor to consider is the benefit of simplicity. For many years, cybersecurity professionals have defaulted to adding more layers of security, in order to prevent data hacks and breaches, however, the downside of this is making security technology more unusable for end users as today, workers see security policies and practices as inconveniences that obstruct their day-to-day tasks. 

User convenience is the key requirement for technology adoption today, and security technology is no exception. The reason is simple: making authentication and security technology easy to use and seamless increases the likelihood of end-user adoption. Not doing so, creates unnecessary friction and incentivizes users to go around said technology. There must then be a balance, so that resources remain secure and users willing to adopt them. 

Solving through Simpler Technology

According to a Forbes study, good UI and UX design can raise a website’s conversion rate up to 200% and 400%, respectively. Not only do complex systems pose security threats, but they also make life difficult for the employees who have to use them every day, leading them to security fatigue. This shows that one of the major ways to overcome security fatigue among employees is to resist punishing end users, and stripping away unnecessary security layers that they have to pass through before they can access their information. 

Clever design and innovative solutions can deliver solid security without unreasonably impacting the user experience. An effective and balanced approach to cybersecurity helps enterprises prevent, detect security events and intrusions as well as quickly recover from such events while also giving employees the ability to simply get their jobs done. While this is never easy, it certainly is achievable.

Seamless Authentication with Biometrics 

The evolution of authentication technology has come a long way, from what you know (passwords or shared secrets) to more secure forms of authentication: who you are (fingerprint, face, and iris scanning) and what you possess (key cards or access tokens/badges). Biometrics ensures fast authentication, safe access management, and precise employee monitoring. 

Easily verifying users’ identities before providing access to valuable assets is vital for businesses, and it is convenient for employees. Biometric technology enables this by being able to identify whether or not users are who they claim to be, without requiring them to set and remember multiple passwords for use at different stages of the authentication and access-granting processes.

The most popular way enterprises introduce biometric technology into their authentication process is by means of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), for verifying employee identity. It requires employees to authenticate identities and then grants users access to networked workstations by use of more than one means of authentication. MFA has proven to be more secure than passwords and it is easier for employees to use because it includes newer improvements to authentication, in combination with traditional means like passwords.

Eliminating the Prime Cause of Fatigue

The prime example of security fatigue is password fatigue — employees, being required to remember having to create safe passwords and remember each password for all the services they use, become overwhelmed with set guidelines of passwords and then take riskier decisions concerning their passwords, from storing in insecure files or post-it notes, or using simple, the same or similar passwords across multiple accounts. 

Although MFA solutions taking into account passwords with secure biometric technology is commonplace, with 61% of information security professionals admitting their company’s MFA solution, passwords, as an added security layer, poses a lot of risk to enterprise security, as it still includes passwords as an option for multi-factor layering rather than completely getting rid of the problem. 

Password elimination brings peace of mind because all the shortcomings incurred by a password-based authentication system are removed. There is no more wasted time in failed attempts of password entry, no instances of password reset or remembering security questions to reset passwords. By completely eliminating passwords, not only does passwordless authentication vastly improve ease of use, seamlessness, and security, but it also eliminates the habits that lead to users developing bad password hygiene.

Less Is More, Especially When It Comes to Cybersecurity

The solution to both securing enterprises and satisfying end-users and employees is simple — enterprises need to prioritize the quality of their security products versus quantity. Rather than adding layer after layer of security technology and in turn overwhelm users, enterprises should aim at implementing a few of the best authentication principles and technology.

Cybersecurity does not have to be complex and bulky – in fact, less is more when it comes to cybersecurity. By implementing seamless, more stripped-back security technology that employees find easy to use, security fatigue can – slowly but surely – be overcome. 

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