by Laurie Clarke

How CIOs can balance employee convenience and security

Jun 11, 2019
Security Software

We are living in an app-based age of comfy sofa-based convenience, but our desire for an easy life can sometimes mean that security is takes a back seat. There has been a long-standing conflict between security and convenience, particularly in relation to IT – for example, while it’s convenient to use a simple password for every single account, this is patently a huge security risk. If your password for one account was somehow leaked, it would compromise all of the others.

This is of course even more important in a professional context: an employee selecting convenience over security could end up compromising vital company information. It’s especially worrying given that employees can often be the weakest link in a company’s security chain.

A report by Shred-it, an information security company, found that employee negligence is the main cause of data breaches. Forty-seven percent of business leaders indicated that this was the case, and gave examples such as losing a device or document.

These can be incredibly basic errors, for instance, the 25% of employees surveyed who said that they leave their computer unlocked and unattended

Remote working

More and more of the workforce wishes to work from home, with office places increasingly eager to comply and open up flexible options to their workers. A 2018 survey found that 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week. However, more employees working outside of the office presents associated security risks.

Cybersecurity protocols just haven’t kept pace with the new challenges posed by remote workers. Many businesses have an insufficient or even no policy in place for remote workers, creating massive security risk. One major area is passwords – employees must have strong credentials for accessing company networks remotely and for their own devices lest they get lost or stolen. Using two-factor authentication increases security and using a password manager to remember long, complicated password is advisable.

Balancing security and convenience

All companies should have training in place for employees offering best practices in security. These can be as simple as keeping desks clear of documents and notes, and instead storing these in locked file cabinets. At a minimum, employees should be provided with clear guidance on password hygiene.

Fast-moving companies can have a habit of skirting over the best information management practices in the place of achieving goals as quickly as possible.

Employees should also be well versed in the most common and obvious attacks such as email phishing and social engineering attempts.

Ultimately, security concerns should always trump the desire for convenience, and any company that doesn’t communicate this effectively to the workforce is sitting on a ticking security time bomb.