Security vs. User Experience (87% Say User Experience Is What Counts)

Is Security an Enabler or an Inhibitor to the Future of Work?

It’s no secret that the drastic, sudden changes in the way we work over the past nine months have negatively impacted user experience and increased cybersecurity risk. Users have been forced away from the consistent application reliability and speed they enjoyed in the office to a work-from-home application experience that is overrun by hiccups, lag, and poor connectivity. In-person meetings have given way to choppy, pixelated video conferencing, during which key points and takeaways can be easily misconstrued. And threat surfaces have exploded across the edge of the network as users log in to critical on-premises business systems, Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms, and cloud apps from unsecured devices at their home office, the dining room table, and their kids’ rooms.

Exacerbating the issue is the fact that we’re not returning to the way things used to be—not anytime soon or ever. We recently conducted research to help us find out how organizations across industries are dealing with the balance between security and user experience. And we’re glad we did. According to the completed survey [1], 62 percent of IT decision makers report that their organizations still have work-from-home mandates in place—and, even when Covid-19 goes away, 80 percent say they will likely have to support a hybrid IT model to accommodate a home office/work balance.

It’s clear that the security vs. experience decision will continue to dominate businesses in the years to come.

Phishing Continues to Keep Cybersecurity Professionals Up at Night

According to the survey, IT professionals continue to face threats across email and the web as well as across new, innovative technology. Nearly two-thirds continue to face email/web threats, while 40 percent are facing threats to cloud applications and Internet of Things (IoT) environments. In terms of challenges, 77 percent of IT professionals say they need to rethink their VPN strategy and remote access in the future, and 82 percent report that they’re expecting increased regulations and compliance requirements in the next two years.

These IT professionals have a reason to be concerned. According to Menlo Labs data, our customers tried to access 56,184 phishing sites in the past 30 days. And of greater concern, more than 7,000 of those sites (about 13 percent) were categorized as safe by customers’ traditional URL filtering solution. This means that those 7,000 sites were hijacked in the past 30 days and turned from trusted to malicious. How can cybersecurity offices keep up with that degree of turnover? They can’t—and that can often lead to fatigue.

But Experience Carries the Day

Security may worry IT professionals, but they’re committed to providing the best application experience they can for remote users. According to the survey, slow access speeds (46 percent), poor connectivity (33 percent), no/loss of access to resources (28 percent), downtime (27 percent), and decreased productivity caused by increased security (27 percent)—all issues that are experience related—are a focus for IT professionals. In fact, 87 percent say security will need to better support the user experience.

It’s clear that IT has to strike a balance between security and experience. And this unappealing choice bears out in the survey results. More than three-quarters of respondents said they need to rethink VPN and remote access in the immediate future, while nearly nine of 10 (87 percent) report that security will need to better support the user experience.

Security without Compromise Is Possible

What if there’s a third option—one that doesn’t require organizations to make the choice between user experience and security? Many organizations are moving security to the cloud as part of the network itself, making security infinitely scalable and adaptable to wherever users log in. Security policies can be applied through the cloud in a seamless, frictionless way—essentially extending data center visibility and control to home offices.

As businesses of all sizes continue to embrace remote working in 2021, organizations need to focus on providing consistent security services throughout the network—from the hardened data center to the unsecure edge. Isolation will help you do that, delivering seamless protection at scale to wherever you do business. In 2021, the way we work can be both accessible and secure, and there’s no need to compromise the user experience to keep users, devices, and the organization safe from malicious actors.

Take a look at the full survey results and learn more about how isolation could be the path forward to securing the future of work for your organization in 2021.


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