Striking the right balance between cybersecurity and convenience

Cyber threats continuously evolve, with criminals and hackers finding ever more inventive and sophisticated methods to attack networks and steal data.

Institutions of all sizes are at risk, but smaller businesses and charitable or non-profit organisations are often seen as low-hanging fruit because they don’t have the cash or resources to create efficient cyber defences.

When it comes to cybersecurity, particularly for SMEs and smaller organisations, there is a difficult balance to strike between protecting systems, networks and data and enabling staff to work without the hassle of complex security processes and applications to go through to carry out simple, everyday tasks.

IT staff often want to maximise cybersecurity by locking down systems and restricting access as much as possible, whereas users just want to get on with their jobs.

Balancing these conflicting agendas while addressing both is a challenge, but the consequences of neglecting security in favour of convenience can be devastating.

However, in many cases, following the basics, keeping up with security patching and switching on all the default security settings in the technologies you use can go a long way to protecting your systems, users and data.

While cybersecurity doesn’t need an ‘all or nothing’ approach, it does need to be taken seriously at all levels of your business or organisation.

Here, we look at how you can balance security with convenience to achieve the best of both worlds.

 

The relationship between cybersecurity and convenience

Taking a balanced and practical approach to cybersecurity can help your business or organisation detect, prevent and recover from security events and intrusions while giving your staff the ability to get their jobs done.

While striking the right balance isn’t easy, it’s certainly achievable.

Although awareness of the importance of cybersecurity is at an all-time high, attacks are still far too prevalent, and organisations and individuals still need to do more to secure systems, data and user accounts.

Several preventative measures can be implemented that, while impacting convenience, are a small price to pay for the added level of protection they provide. And, once in place, they quickly become the norm and users find a way of working with them and can even see the benefits.

For example, the additional ‘hassle’ of multi-factor authentication can quickly be forgotten when users realise what it’s there to protect. If they’ve ever been frozen out of an account because their password has been compromised, they’ll even be thankful for it.  

 

How to balance security with convenience

Organisations need to continually review their cybersecurity standards and ensure staff are adequately trained, as hackers working outside the law are always looking at new ways to breach data security.

If you’re worried about your current cybersecurity provision or don’t have any in place whatsoever, then working towards the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials framework is an excellent place to start.

The Government-backed scheme provides organisations and businesses with the tools they need to protect their data, networks and digital assets. It has been developed to provide a basic cybersecurity standard. It provides validation that organisations which hold it are taking all necessary steps to protect themselves from cyber-attacks and keep their data safe.

Cyber Essentials accreditation is also required for all businesses planning to bid for public sector contracts involving handling personal information.

When it comes to securing your organisation’s network, there are several things you can do to harden your cybersecurity defences without compromising user convenience. These include:

  • Introduce Firewalls
  • Ensure you use Secure device configurations
  • Control what actions users can take on their devices
  • Use some form of malware protection
  • Rollout software & OS patches regularly

 

The role of your users in cybersecurity

Simple human error is one of the biggest causes of cyber incidents. Your users can often compromise your devices, networks and data without realising.

Many employees still fall for malware, ransomware and phishing attacks or aren’t aware of the latest methods hackers deploy to gain access to your data, software and devices.  

You can address the unintentional threat your users pose through better cybersecurity awareness training. Dedicating the time and resources to train employees at all levels will help you improve your organisation’s cybersecurity posture and allow your users to identify and respond to various threats.

Although cybersecurity training won’t prevent people from intentionally doing bad things, making all your staff more cyber-aware will help eliminate many common problems.

And other cyber protections can be put in place to help mitigate insider threats, such as multi-factor authentication, biometrics, limiting user access and using machine learning to look for suspicious or unusual user behaviour.

Prioritising user experience is key to keeping convenience and security on the same side. If employees feel the software or device they’re using is too complex or time-consuming, they’ll either stop using it altogether or look for their own, often unsecured ways, of getting around the problem.

And if IT staff want users to be responsible for data security, they must ensure users understand and accept the technology at hand.

So, while the balance between convenience and IT security is attainable, focusing not only on the technology itself but policies and culture, will help you achieve it.

If you enjoyed this blog and want to find out more about how we can help your organisation protect its data, bolster its cybersecurity and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588 or book a free consultation.

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