How To Get The Right Balance Between Security And Usability

With cybercrime growing, you might feel like the only way to protect your business is to lock your systems up like Fort Knox! But let’s be real – not only is that on the unrealistic side, but you also want to keep things running smoothly and not turn your workday into an endless parade of password resets and security pop-ups.  

So, how do you strike that perfect balance between security and usability at work? Here are some tips and best practices to help you achieve both goals without losing your mind in the process. 

Understand the risks 

First things first, you need to know what you’re up against. Cyberattacks can steal your confidential information, tarnish your reputation, halt your operations, and have you reaching into your wallet to sort out.  

To get a grip on things, assess the likelihood and impact of threats like phishing, malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, and data leaks. Know your assets (think devices, networks, servers, databases, applications) and their weak spots. With a solid understanding of the risks, you can prioritise security measures and focus your resources exactly where they’re needed most. 

Implement security policies 

Now that you know the risks, it’s time get those security policies in place. These should cover everything from password management and data encryption to access control and incident response. Your policies need to be clear, thorough, and actually doable! Plus, they should get a regular check-up to stay current with new threats and tech. 

Try to keep it simple too, nobody wants to read a 50-page manual. For example, instead of making people change their passwords every month (hello, password fatigue and forgetting what this month’s password is!), encourage the use of strong passphrases or multi-factor authentication. The key is making security something everyone can stick to without too much hassle. 

Choose security tools 

Next up is picking the right tools for the job. There are loads of security tools out there, from firewalls and antivirus software to intrusion detection systems and encryption tools. Look for security tools that work with your current setup, otherwise you may find that you have to update all of your systems which can be a cost you weren’t prepared for.  

Tools that automate tasks in the background without constant user input are also a smart choice as they keep things secure without slowing everyone down. For example, an automated patch management system keeps all your software up to date without users needing to lift a finger. Keep in mind that the best tools should make your life easier, not harder

If you’re not totally sure what tools you need then now is the time to have a chat with IT experts – that’s us! We can assess your needs, help you pick the right tools for your business, and even go through best practices and how to use them with you. 

Educate your team 

Even the best security tools and policies won’t help if your team isn’t on board with them. That’s why it’s very important that you educate everyone who works for you and will be using your systems about the risks and best practices for staying safe.  

You should cover topics like phishing awareness, safe browsing habits, secure password creation, and data handling. You can do this in-house or via external training, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s just a one time thing to tick a box – we wish it was that simple! Technology and cybercrime are constantly changing, so you should aim to have a training session every six months to make sure you and your team are staying clued up on best practices.  

Involve your stakeholders 

Cybersecurity… that’s just to do with IT, right? Wrong! Security isn’t just an IT issue; it’s everyone’s business. Involve all your stakeholders – employees, customers, partners, and regulators – in your security plans. You’ll want to communicate openly, get their feedback, and ensure your security measures meet their needs and expectations. This type of collaborative approach builds trust and encourages a culture of security awareness and compliance, rather than just making one person or team responsible for security. After all, security works best when everyone’s on the same page. 

Review and improve 

It’s like we said earlier in the blog, security is not a “set it and forget it” deal. Make sure that you regularly review your security measures to identify gaps and weaknesses. You can do this by staying up-to-date with the latest security trends and technologies, conducting regular audits and penetration tests to see how well your security is working and where it can get better. Again, if you’re not totally sure what you’re doing, this is a job that’s best left to the professionals, as they’ll know exactly what they’re looking for. Plus, they can give you some great tech advice! 

Here’s what else to consider 

Don’t click away, you’re not done yet! Here’s some extra tips to help you find that sweet spot between security and usability: 

  • Design your security measures with the end-user in mind. Try to minimise disruptions and make security part of the natural workflow. 
  • Only give users the access they need to do their job – nothing more, nothing less. 
  • Encourage regular feedback to understand the impact of security measures on productivity and address any concerns. 
  • Choose scalable security solutions that can grow and adapt with your organisation. 

  

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