Save the Helpdesk and Security: Automate Password and Account Management

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Dec 31, 2015 09:00 pm PST

Helpdesks are overwhelmed, often inundated by mundane and repetitive manual tasks that kill their productively and keep them from achieving their organizational goals. By taking steps that are usually simple and financially efficient, much time can be saved for employees and organizations managing this process. Also, through the automation of processes that remain manual and out of date, technology leaders are able to take steps to help their teams and their departments, including the helpdesk, to focus on more pressing technology matters than resetting forgotten passwords or managing account access by allowing internal customers the ability to do so themselves.

IT and helpdesk employees often are required to address an overwhelming number of calls each day, according to a recent survey, with more than half of the respondents featured saying that their helpdesk receives more than 100 calls a week. The survey shows that more than 56 percent of those asked said the number of passwords required of employees to access their systems directly affects the number of calls the helpdesk receives. Complex password policies mean confusion for employees and resets will occur on a much broader scale. The more difficult organizations make it for their employees to easy access their systems and information, the more difficult they make it for everyone who must support them, specifically IT and tech support services — which is a no-brainer, of course.

However, many continue to report that they are required by their organizations to create complex passwords every month or at varying pre-determined times. These headaches lead to wasted time on managing meaningless passwords, which could easily be managed automatically by end users (read: employees who are not on the helpdesk) by allowing them access to tools where they can reset their own passwords by providing a few quick answers to challenge questions.

These are known as self-service reset password management tools. Straight forward enough, it would seem.

Helpdesk employees spend an inordinate amount of time (read: many days over the course of a year simply resetting passwords) on tasks that are simple, but time-consuming. I didn’t think you’d be surprised. Also not surprising is that most of these account management issues are critical because they mean users cannot access their computers or any additional applications to get their work done. From personal experience, more than 70 percent or more of those I work with say these issues are often time-critical to those affected.

Finally, organizational helpdesks can save a great deal of time if end users could reset their own passwords. Simple enough really. Who doesn’t like having the ability to reset their own passwords when locked out? According to the survey mentioned above, and what I see each day, is that as end users are able to safely and securely reset and manage their own passwords without having to contact the helpdesk, self-service password reset solutions can save a good bit of money, as well as increase the level of service for end users.

These IT solutions, self-service reset password managers, allow end-users the ability to reset their password on the basis of a number of simple, pre-defined questions, commonly accessed through a “forgot my password” button on their login screen, which they use to provide answers to a series of security questions.

Oxford University Press implemented such a solution. Take it from me (and them), it’s the largest university press in the world, with a strong presence throughout the globe. The organisation publishes products in more than 40 languages in both digital and print format. The IT department supports more than 3,000 users in the UK and 750 in the US. On average, 25 percent of the calls to the helpdesk were password-related. The IT staff was burdened with resolving these calls, resulting in an increased administrative load for the IT department. At the same time, the users also wasted time and during the lockout.

Karl Andrews, the IT service desk manager there said: “With such a large and diverse organisation, user accounts need updating on a daily basis, because of new starters, leavers, transfers and temporary staff, if we relied on manual processes to do this, we would have to employ someone, all year round, simply to do user account updates. This is neither practical nor economical. We needed software that would enable us to provision user accounts and allow non-complex user administration tasks to be delegated to non-IT staff.”

The installation of the password reset manager took less than two hours. Yep, lightning fast. By deploying the self-service reset password management tool, Oxford University Press allows users to remain productive by conducting a password reset themselves anytime and anywhere, eliminating any idle time being locked out of the system.

Oxford University Press found the 24/7 availability of the self-service reset password manager to be beneficial because of the large number of remote users within the organization. The technology gives them the ability to be able to reset their passwords during non-business hours.

Since implementation of the self-service reset password manager, “We have seen a marked reduction in the overall volume of calls to the service desk,” Andrews said. “We get about 500 less requests to the service desk a year since the implementation, which makes a huge difference to us as our team is no longer inundated with resets and the end user is happier as they are able to access their account without delay.”

Employees and employers both reap the benefits and time savings associated with such automated solutions when it comes to forgotten passwords. While password resets are one of the easiest IT tasks to manage, they also are one of the most distracting and time-consuming tasks IT professionals face.

[su_box title=”About Robert Doswell” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]Robert-DoswellRobert has been working with Tools4ever solutions for over 10 years, founding Tools4ever Limited in 2002. Since then, Robert has grown the UK and Irish markets significantly year on year. In addition to conducting direct sales, he is responsible for the telesales team, field sales representatives, and professional services team.Robert has been involved in Business to Business sales since completing his education at the University of Wales. Specializing on Windows administration solutions for medium to large networks since 1996 allows Robert a deep understanding of our client requirements and configuring solution for a perfect match.[/su_box]