Cyber Security News / Trends Column

Debating Between Convenience and Security in Authentication

Physical and logical identity and access control is the most frequent convergence point in enterprises

Iwas going to submit this column to my editor on time this month, really, but getting online was just too hard. So I gave up. And it is late.

That would seem a weak excuse at best for poor work habits, but a recent study, Moving Beyond Passwords: Consumer Attitudes on Online Authentication, commissioned by the company Nok Nok and done by The Ponemon Group, is instructive about human behavior and the challenges your enterprise might face with identification, authentication and access.

Why might this matter? First, physical and logical identity and access control is the most frequent convergence point in enterprises. Second, because it sort of says that buying great technology that is effective, per se, but difficult to use will meet resistance, reduce productivity, create a service nightmare, cost too much to support and ultimately have to be replaced by the person that replaces you.

Noted once again, managing cyber risk is a business problem. If only addressed as a technology issue of computing power over human behavior, then it will circle back as an even larger business problem.

Let’s look at the convergence issue. The first convergence “concept” was merging physical access with network access. It had a variety of flavors, but the most common was that your ID badge upon entering your facility disabled your VPN or created an alert if you were physically in your facility but attempting to access the network externally, nd vice versa. But that case study is ancient today. The perimeter that security used to defend is gone. The definition of those entering a facility or logging onto a network is simply: “users.” And BYOD has made work devices personal devices and personal devices work devices. How do you authenticate identity in this complex environment?

And while there are technologies that can do this, they may be met with resistance and ultimately a “the post office lost my letter” excuse. Back to Ponemon’s study of consumers (about 2,000 in the U.S., UK and Germany) about passwords and their response when faced with authentication challenges:

  • Passwords are too hard to remember
  • They take too long to reset
  • The Internet site locks users out after failing too frequently

And, like me and my deadline….. They just give up. And while the respondents faced difficulties logging into a website, they did not believe the increased difficulty made that website any more secure than sites they were more easily able to access. Hmmmm.

So, what does this tell us? Users (your customers) believe authentication is important, but they want to be authenticated and simply identified. Interestingly, if consumers trust the organization, biometrics is acceptable to use for authentication. Voice recognition and facial scan are the most acceptable types of biometric authentication. Least acceptable in the U.S. and UK is an iris scan. In Germany, least favored are fingerprints. While you have many options on this important front, balancing convenience with security to match your enterprise’s culture is the first step.

You can read more about passwords and one group that is working to save you time and money with passwords and their challenges in this month’s Security Talk.  


Like what you’re reading?
Subscribe FREE today at



Our 2012 Security 500 research and benchmarking report identified cyber security as a critical issue that you face. As a result, we are expanding our editorial each issue, in addition to online and in our eNewsletter, to address cyber risk, crime, espionage, security and more. We are pleased to welcome Steven Chabinsky to the Securityfamily as our new cyber columnist. Steven had a distinguished 17-year career with the FBI, where he helped shape and draft many of America’s most significant cyber and infrastructure protection laws and strategies. Please let us know your concerns, your questions and your victories for this critical business issue. We look forward to your input, and thank you for reading Securitymagazine.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

Security June 2015 issue cover

2015 June

In this June 2015 issue of SecurityIs the security director business’s new “corporate rock star?” Find out how CSOs can become the new leaders of their enterprises through mentorships, partnerships and creatively adding business value. Also, learn how security professionals are training employees in cyber security through games. And why are deterrence and detection so important when it comes to thwarting metal thieves? Find out in this issue.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Body Cameras on Security Officers

Body cameras are being used increasingly by police in cities across the U.S. Will you arm your security officers with a body camera?
View Results Poll Archive


Effective Security Management, 5th Edition.jpg
Effective Security Management, 5th Edition

 Effective Security Management, 5e, teaches practicing security professionals how to build their careers by mastering the fundamentals of good management. Charles Sennewald brings a time-tested blend of common sense, wisdom, and humor to this bestselling introduction to workplace dynamics. 

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.