Business is all about making tough choices. One such choice is whether to value IT security or business flexibility more. Unfortunately, you can not have the best of both at the same time.
While having absolute security or the opposite in absolute flexibility may sound good, neither is actually for the best. An entirely secure environment is tough on users and a fully flexible IT environment is near impossible to keep safe.
When weighing security and flexibility, think of it on a sliding scale: more of one means sacrificing something from the other. If you amp up your security, you can limit business productivity. Your staff may try to get work done, but continuously bump up against security constraints. If you decide to give your people full flexibility, then you run the risk of leaving your business more open and vulnerable to attack.
Where you want to land on this sliding scale can depend on your industry. A bank protecting funds or a hospital with private patient data would prioritize security. Alternately, a small widgets business might not put so much emphasis on data security.
Security company, Balabit, asked European IT pros to choose between IT security and business flexibility. In general, 71 percent thought security was equally or more important than flexibility. But then when asked whether they’d risk security to clinch a major deal, 69 percent were willing to take their chances!
Finding the Right Balance
Leaders have to find the sweet spot between IT security and business flexibility. Striking the right balance is essential to successful security measures and flexibility aims.
One major consideration is the type of data the IT security is protecting and where that threat comes from. Credit card and health insurance companies are responsible for securing customer information mainly from outside breaches. A university or school though will need to think about both internal and external breaches.
The potential impacts of a security breach are also a factor. Cyberattacks can mean business disruption, lost productivity and lost business revenue – plus the potential damage to brand reputation and a loss of customer loyalty. A business in a highly regulated industry could also face massive fines and legal fees.
Another consideration would be history of suspicious activity: if your business has already suffered an attack, you most likely be targeted again so security should be a priority. Likewise, if your industry is a common target for cybercriminals, you can not take unnecessary chances.
Then, there’s the demand for business flexibility. How much do you need and in what situations? For instance, allowing employees to use their own devices is a convenience for some, but it is a necessity in other environments.
The ability to control security and flexibility on a situation-by-situation basis can help. In instances where a customer’s identifying information is exchanged, security would trump flexibility. But when work teams collaborate globally, business flexibility is the more important aim.
Get Professional Input into This Equation
Consult your IT provider or managed services provider (MSP) to provide perspective on the best balance. The IT professional can examine your business processes, goals and appetite for risk. Then, they can help set that slider between IT security and business flexibility that is best for your business.
IT experts recognize the need for adaptable security that responds to shifting needs. When that big deal comes up, you don’t want to have to deliberately risk security. Ultimately, you’re looking to achieve just the right combination of both. This lets your technology users do their best, while your business remains safe and secure.
Want to balance security and still be business friendly? Are you in Adelaide or South Australia? If so contact us on 08 8326 4364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.