Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions ensure the right people have access to the right applications to do their job. By managing user access to systems and applications, IAM mitigates the risk of password-based cyber-attacks and reduces the user friction associated with managing passwords.
When selecting an IAM solution, one key feature that can often be overlooked for consideration is the interface presented to end-users, which can have a significant impact on usability, adoption and ultimately the success of the IAM project. In this respect, not all IAM solutions are made equal. While some solutions have detailed, comprehensive end-user interfaces, others attempt to minimise user intrusion, sometimes offering an option for the end-user not to be presented by a user interface (UI) or options at all. But why is it important?
User adoption is a key inhibiting factor in the effectiveness of many cybersecurity solutions. The traditional security paradigm reads that there is a trade off between making things secure and making them ease to use. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a good example, where if required to access every single application, security is prioritised, but it would also introduce significant end-user friction, increasing the time taken for users to access apps and rendering users unable to work if their authentication device was lost or damaged.
High levels of end-user friction not only make life difficult for employees, it also increases the likelihood of the project ultimately failing. User friction introduced by new solutions decrease rates of adoption, creates pushback to management and results in users seeking out ways to bypass the technology.
IAM is one of the few cybersecurity solutions that can challenge the traditional security paradigm – by improving security, while also improving convenience, by removing the burden of memorising, managing and entering passwords from users and enabling a fast, efficient experience when logging into applications.
It is therefore paramount that IAM solutions play to these strengths and introduce as little friction as possible to ensure a high level of user adoption. Presenting an end-user with a complex user interface, or a plethora of options to cater for every need, can be overwhelming, inhibit the user’s workflow and create unnecessary friction. Some IAM solutions have recognised this and instead adopt a minimal, or even Zero UI option, that can remain in the background, silently authenticating users with applications without interrupting the user’s workflow. The ultimate aim after all is to enable quick and secure access, not create a new, intermediate step which needs to be navigated.
Some of the most technically capable solutions can fail to achieve their intended results because they don’t get fully implemented and never achieve full roll out. The corporate landscape is littered with expensive projects that ticked all the boxes on purchase, but failed to deliver on implementation. Some technology solutions may exist out of sight of end-users, but traditionally IAM has impacted user workflow. For that reason, the user interface and how it’s received by end-users, can dramatically affect adoption and the likelihood of it delivering the intended business outcomes.
IAM solutions that can operate in the background do not interrupt users’ workflow and do not require users to actively opt-in, leading to greater user adoption. If users don’t see it and it operates behind the scenes, simply, there won’t be pushback from requiring users to change the way they work.
While user adoption is key for all technology implementations, it takes on greater meaning for IAM, where every user and application outside the protection of IAM is a potential entry point for unauthorised access and account takeover. Comprehensive user adoption and coverage is a key element in a successful implementation.
IAM solutions that have an option to present no UI to end-users can provide a greater degree of efficacy and cost-efficiency to organisations . The ability to authenticate users silently in the background avoids interrupting workflow, negates the need for end-user training and reduces end-user friction and pushback. The resultant high levels of user adoption help organisations accelerate time to value and maximise ROI.
Learn more on how organisations are improving security and reducing user friction by moving to passwordless authentication.