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Security Central: Watch Out, Productivity - Cybersecurity Underfoot

This week’s Security Central takes a look at importance of good cybersecurity practices vs overall productivity within an organization and examines the inevitable balancing act companies, employees and solution providers face.

Ask any company executive. CIO. Solution provider. Random guy sitting on a bench waiting for the bus. Cybersecurity is important. Imperative, even. Everybody knows that…. right?

The short answer is, of course, yes. However, even though executive teams and experts fully understand the importance of air-tight data protection and cybersecurity practices – particularly considering the current hyper-sophisticated and terrifying threat hellscape – it seems that there is one rather significant wrench in the works: the perception that cybersecurity hinders an organization’s overall productivity.

It’s your classic Catch-22. Security solutions are necessary/essential to ward off attacks, but they also have the potential to hinder day-to-day operations, annoyingly limit access to information, and overall, seriously put a damper on employee output.

A recent report by Silicon Valley-based virtualization firm Bromium states that on average, an organization gets complaints from users twice a week saying that legitimate work activity is being blocked or rejected by over-zealous security systems. Increased cybersecurity measures causes employees to take shortcuts, effectively hindering productivity.

Clearly this is a widespread, fairly common problem. So what’s the answer here?

While there isn’t a simple, stock “box-set” solution, Jack Danahy, CTO and co-founder of Barkly, has a pretty solid take on the matter. He states, rather plainly, that we must “redefine” efficiency. “Good security does not bog down efficiency,” says Danahy. “Efficiency can’t be measured by how fast a single user can accomplish a particular task; it must be directly linked to the performance of the organization as a whole.”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is where IT and MSPs come in. It’s up to these folks to make sure a harmony is reached - to ensure that a company is striking the right balance between productivity and cybersecurity and that it feathers both up and down within the organization.

A part of this means working directly with customers to make sure they’re utilizing the crap out of technology implementations, but the other part means that productivity considerations must be included in security decisions straight from the get-go.

According to IDC, 70 percent of security threats originate from the end point, and, according to Bromium, 99 percent of CISOs believe users are the "last line of defense" against hackers. Here’s Bromium's suggestion: steer the security approach in a different direction - away from the scenario in which user access is heavily limited to a virtualized application isolation environment designed to prevent users from doing damage to the organization if they accidentally open a spammy email attachment.

It is also critical that decision makers seek input from the users who will be impacted by the implementation of new technology. It’s a fact - humans don’t like change, especially when they sense that it could potentially threaten productivity. However, the right security strategy won’t do that, ideally. It doesn’t have to hamper activity or require a frustrating, time-consuming inconvenient workaround. If done right, security technology and solutions can enhance operations, productivity, and revenue down the line, while at the same time doing a smashing job of protecting the organization.

Again, there are no solutions tied up in pretty bows that are going to completely cover an entire company or appease each employee’s needs when it comes to security. There has to be some give and take. However, with the right combination of solutions, companies can at least get closer to achieving the dream combo - productivity and security.

What are you hearing from your customers about the hassles of cybersecurity. What are their hangups and gripes? Let us know in the comments section below.

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