Security is more than insurance.
In today’s highly digitised workforce, there is no denying the severity of threats posed by cybercriminals. Recent estimates suggest that cybercrime is costing Australian businesses as much as 29 billion dollars every year and if recent trends on hacking are to continue, that figure won’t be disappearing anytime soon. CIOs and IT teams know very well that businesses should just be prepared for an attack, they should be expecting one. Rightly so, in recent years businesses and governments have therefore invested billions into cybercrime prevention in order to keep their digital assets and connected infrastructure safe.
With cybersecurity protocols and infrastructure now engrained into modern work practices, often to the ire of operations teams who seldom see measures such as identity verification as little more than an inconvenience, IT teams need to shift perceptions towards the understanding that cybersecurity and identity management is not a hindrance, it is a business enabler.
1. Reduce Friction
We get it, most employees use multiple business tools in the working day that require different logins depending on who the named account holder in the office is. Add multi-factor authentication (MFA) for each login to the mix and it isn’t hard to see how it can be seen as a barrier to productivity.
However, MFA is not the enemy here. What is required is a wholistic approach to employee identity management that ensures a single solution for accessing multiple secure accounts is used across both on- and off-premise assets, whilst allowing security, usability and scalability for internal IT teams. This way, less time is lost to forgotten usernames and passwords as employees only require a single login to access all the tools they need.
In a world where time lost is money lost, a well thought out approach to employee identity management can boost productivity and ensure staff respond positively to security measures.
2. Build stakeholder trust
With the rise of the gig economy and increased levels of contract working, IT teams have their work cut out for them managing access for transient employees. We have seen as much as 40% of organisations in APAC use outsourced contractors and gig workers to fulfil digital skills requirements. Not only can this be a pain point for IT staff tasked with managing individual identities, it can also be a barrier to trust for third party stakeholders if the security of each employee identity cannot be ensured and verified.
Identity management protocol must utilise contextually aware authentication that caters for all types of employees, from full-time to contractor. This way IT management can set policies based on user conditions that are in line with the organisation’s overall risk strategy. This way, the organisation can have a visible and up to date understanding of every employee identity and demonstrate a high degree of security to external stakeholders.
3. Enable remote workforces and drive digital transformation
The current state of work around the world has put even the strongest of IT teams to the test. Whilst Australian business has faced significant sort-term office disruption from bushfires and bad weather, there has never been such a significant shift to long term working from home as what we are seeing right now.
In an ideal world, employee’s personal and work identities should always be separate in order to minimise security risks associated with unsecured endpoints. However, mass WFH means that this is not always possible. Instead, identity management and monitoring can be deployed as a strategy to ensure strong password controls are in place to ensure security is enabled evenly across business and employee owned IT infrastructure.
This in turn can even drive digital transformation goals as a way to enable remote work-sourcing, in areas the business may not have the in-house resources, allowing the digital dexterity to drive business goals regardless of where employees are physically located.
4. Ensure compliance
With GDPR increasingly influencing Australian data protection practice as well as the news that industry specific cybersecurity standards are to come into play in Australia, IT security teams are being governed by an ever expanding set of rules designed to keep employees and citizens safe from cybercrime.
Although well intentioned, ensuring operational compliance can be a headache for organisations that often need to overhaul systems to toe the line with new regulations. For this reason, the burden of compliance is often thrown onto employees who are required to update their day-to-day practices in line with the rules. When it comes to IT compliance, this can result in the addition of multiple steps that may be seen as “unnecessary” by employees used to more frictionless processes.
IT must consider the impact of enhanced security on employee productivity but also balance the need to secure highly sensitive data and resources with user-friendly authentication methods. Taking the high road and being compliant to the highest available standards now will ease the burden of further regulation down the track as well as exceed customer expectations and engender trust.
5. Integrate identity to support operational excellence
There’s no denying the competitive nature of today’s business environments. Couple that with economic downturn post-pandemic and organisations are under incredible pressure to optimise business strategy to drive efficiency across all areas of business.
Automation tools present in key identity management solutions can help to free up IT resources so staff can focus on strategic and growth focused initiatives. Robust password management enables multiple employee identities to be managed with fewer resources, a welcome relief to often over-stretched IT security teams. This allows management to reallocate IT staff time towards more thought-intensive security challenges, further improving security outcomes whilst simultaneously lowering costs.
These five points only scratch the surface of how properly implemented identity management can be so much more than just insurance against cyber-threats. When it comes to security as a business enabler, the future is now.