Placing Users First and Plugging the Leaky Data Faucet

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The Ponemon Institute notes that the average cost of a data breach is $5.4 Million. Due to the rise of simple file collaboration solutions, data breaches happen in new and unexpected ways, catching unaware executives off-guard. These breaches often start like a leaky faucet, with one small drip at a time. Avoid the multi-million dollar cleanup bill by understanding the relationship between user experience and data security.

User Experience defined
Simply put, user experience (often abbreviated UX) is the sum of the subjective feelings of utility, ease of use, and efficiency that a person experiences when using a digital interface. When a website is too complicated or doesn’t work as expected, the UX is said to be poor. The best UX a person can have is when the system works naturally with their current needs and provides a solution with little or no friction. Apple’s iOS is universally lauded as such an experience. In fact, infants are able to quickly understand and interact with iOS even before developing speech or literacy.

The executive knowledge gap
Managers are often unaware of the risk created when a poor UX is introduced into the lives of employees. Be it an email program or a policy, a bad experience will undoubtedly result in employees seeking other solutions, but when it comes to corporate data, other solutions could present major security threats.

Overcoming the UX gap
While most executives are not specialists in evaluating user experience, starting with operational realities often yields similar insights. Reviewing several key areas can help managers understand if they have a UX problem that could eventually lead to an unintentional (and costly) data breach, and implementing the steps listed below can ensure that breach doesn’t happen.

  1. Provide guidance on using secure passwords that are unique to each outlet. Using an encrypted password storage application may help ease the UX friction.
  2. Advise on the proper protocol for file transfers between clients, vendors, and stakeholders. If your network does not manage this for you, implementing a simple, outside solution may be the best course of action.
  3. Ensure file collaboration is happening in a controlled, secure environment that doesn’t get in its own way. This means employees should be able to freely collaborate while leaving a proper audit trail.

By applying principles of UX to corporate information systems, managers can eliminate legal exposure while providing employees with buy-in to the interfaces they are required to use every day. This win-win scenario fixes the leaky data faucet and could end up saving the company millions.

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