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Balancing Security with User Experience: How Everyone Wins


researchHQ’s Key Takeaways:

  • Identity and Digital Trust (IDT) focuses on one of the main dilemmas facing business leaders at the moment: how can organisations provide secure end-to-end access to their customers and employees without creating a frustrating user experience (UX)?
  • Several solutions have emerged for these problems:
    • Enterprise password managers (EMPs) can securely store hundreds of passwords for any given user, bypassing one of the main vulnerabilities in a computer network: weak passwords.
    • Single-sign on (SSO) technologies allow users to access a range of applications through a single, secure log-in and password.
    • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to input additional information when logging in, from a one-time password (OTP) sent by text to fingerprints and voice recognition.
  • Each company has unique requirements; integrating a range of these technologies will enable companies to build an access and authentication model suited to their needs and demands.


“Forgot your password? Click here to reset.” For both employees and customers, those 7 words have become a frustrating experience. For organizations, too, they are a major cost, a source of lost productivity, and potentially lost business as well. The average cost of a password reset is around $50 (depending on which source you check). Multiply that out for an organization with thousands of employees, millions of customers, and potentially thousands of failed logins per week, and it’s clear that the digital world is crying out for a solution.

User experience – UX – is a major focus throughout the Identity and Digital Trust (IDT) sphere, as authentication and access processes are such ubiquitous friction points for end users. The IDC view is that an optimum approach to identity and access should neither sacrifice the security nor the UX, but rather allow your organization to ‘have your cake and eat it’. In other words, there is a need for enterprises to provide end-to-end and effective security that gets out of the way of genuine users, allowing employees to focus on their core responsibilities and customers/consumers to focus on acquiring the products and services they desire.

The IDT market has evolved as the adoption of cloud, mobile devices and mobile access, and “e-everything” (eGovernment, eBanking, eCommerce, etc.) has become widespread. New approaches and technologies have emerged to facilitate identity and access processes more smoothly and/or strengthen security around digital interactions. These include multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), contextual and adaptive/dynamic authentication, behavioural analytics, and biometrics. This is good, but it can leave security teams struggling to determine the optimum approach for their organization and which IDT tools and components are the best fit to their processes and infrastructure. Crucially, they also need to ensure that enterprise-wide adoption will be as smooth and painless as possible for all users.

When it comes to delivering a smooth and painless experience, it is also important to bear in mind the needs of the security and IT teams who support and operate identity technologies. From an operational perspective, maintaining a positive user experience while enhancing security is best achieved when the organization has adopted a unified security approach. The key to this is deploying integrated solutions (for example, an identity platform) that work well together and bring benefits both to security and IT (e.g., lower operational and management burden) and to the broader workforce (user satisfaction, productivity). From the side of the IT and security teams, this represents a strong move towards operational excellence in security; from a user perspective, it means a smooth and seamless experience as they go about their day-to-day activities.

Identity Is A Business Issue

Business is the ultimate beneficiary of both operational and UX improvements. This is of paramount importance: as we all know, without the support of the business, driving enterprise adoption of new platforms can be challenging, even when we as the IT or security team know the benefits it will bring. Communicating those benefits to the board and the users is important too. In this time of frequent data breaches and eroding consumer trust, a progressive approach to identity and security shows that the organization takes care of individuals’ personal data (employees, customers, and all other stakeholders). This helps build the digital trust that has become a critical currency in the digital era, crucial for the success of any business.


So, let’s get back to that frustrated user and their password reset. How can your organization reduce those pain points? Enterprise password managers (EPMs) are becoming an indispensable part of the worker’s toolkit. The typical end user these days has anything from 90 to 200 logins and passwords for different sites (and often more!). Weak passwords and password re-use are significant, widespread problems that can lead to accounts being compromised and systems being breached. A good EPM doesn’t just lock up all your passwords in one user-friendly but impregnable box, however. It will also check the credentials of the site or application you are trying to log in to, and if it is not legitimate – e.g., if you have been directed to a malicious imitation of your online banking service – then the EPM will not enter your credentials. An extra layer of protection delivered without any additional effort on the part of the user. What’s not to like?

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