We live in a world of convenience. Apps arrange for food to be delivered to our doorsteps. Watches track our daily activity, heart rate and stress levels. Public Wi-Fi enables us to access information anywhere and everywhere. And, sometimes it seems like our smartphones can hear what we are thinking. While these advances in technology make living our lives and doing business easier than ever, where do we draw the line? How do we make sure our private lives stay private, and our data stays secure? Is there a trade-off to the conveniences and continuous connectivity we have become accustomed to?
Can’t Have it Both Ways
There is no question as to why individuals and businesses are taking advantage of digital conveniences. The benefits are apparent and they are enticing: Cost and time savings, increased productivity, and immediate gratification. However, the tools that make doing business more convenient can also make it less secure.
Take, for example, online banking and digital transactions. More and more individuals are managing their finances on the web and mobile devices. With a tap of your finger, you can check your account balance, pay your bills, and transfer cash in seconds. Sure, banking apps use SSL encryption and, in theory, should be safe, but what about when you’re not in the confines of your own home, using your own secure Wi-Fi network? More and more cybercriminals are hacking individuals that connect to public Wi-Fi, so it is important to take the proper measures to minimize the security risks associated with always being “connected”.
On the flip side, processes that make individuals and businesses more secure are also generally less convenient. But while two-step verification and multiple layers of authentication require more work, they do ensure a higher level of security.
In my opinion, it’s all about security. Security should trump convenience every time. That being said, I do recognize that society expects a certain level of convenience, especially in business. The question then becomes, how can businesses ensure their data, as well as their clients’ data, remains secure yet at the same time easily accessible?
A Balancing Act
Balancing security and convenience is the key. One should never be completely sacrificed for the other. However, in the short term, we are going to have to sacrifice some level of convenience to achieve security. Is going into a portal to obtain your data that much more difficult than getting it via email? If it’s the same data every day, setting up a data transmission is not only more secure it’s also more efficient. And if you feel strongly that instructing money movements via email is acceptable, then receiving a phone call verifying your identity is not a waste of time, it’s just good security. In an always on, always connected lifestyle, it’s important that we recognize the rationale behind some of these inconveniences faced and the added security benefits gained in return.
Businesses need to also hold themselves accountable and be transparent about how they are using and protecting their clients’ data, and do their part to keep their clients’ information safe. This will inevitably mean a reduction in the distribution of data via email as well as the elimination of Excel attachments that contain client specific data. I believe this will be a major shift in the operating model of many businesses!
Personally, I am more than willing to sacrifice certain conveniences if it means stronger security of my data and identity. GDPR was developed in the EU to help put the control of individuals’ data and identities back into their hands, and it has changed the game. I expect that we will see much more of this type of legislation emerge around the globe, and for good reason.
Bottom line is that there should never be a trade-off between security and convenience. If convenience is the ultimate goal, then security needs to be at the core of the game.