Designing Security UI for a Modern, Tech-Savvy Workforce

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Millennials catch a lot of flack for being glued to their devices, obsessed with social media, and always trying to disrupt tried-and-true technology. However, they also now make up the largest generation in the workforce and despite being particularly well suited to the cyber industry – they think differently, are digitally savvy and move quickly – yet just seven percent of cybersecurity workers are under the age of 29. 
It’s well documented that the cybersecurity field suffers from a staggering talent shortage and with a significant proportion of existing security professionals due to retire over the next 10 years, the current outlook is bleak.

According to CyberSeek, 40,000 jobs for information security analysts already go unfilled every year. Exabeam’s own study into the state of the security operations center (SOC) recently found that 45% of SOCs are currently understaffed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, heavy competition for the few security professionals out there is the main barrier to attracting and/or retaining new employees. 
Cybersecurity has an image problem…
Perhaps one of the biggest problems the cybersecurity industry has is its image. Hollywood loves to portray it as a dark underworld rife with hackers and loners that spend their time in dark rooms writing intricate code. Of course, this is completely inaccurate, but until the industry can better demonstrate what it’s really like, it’s an image that’s proving difficult to shift.
…and a tech problem

Another key factor is the clunky and outdated enterprise technology used by the sector that’s failing to keep pace with a younger workforce. A combination of convoluted UIs and non-intuitive workflows means enterprise security software is rarely user-friendly. 

This is largely because the enterprise tech industry has traditionally relied on a model that targets sales to CIOs and senior IT executives, instead of focusing on the end-user experience. Once software systems are up and running, companies also tend to get locked into contracts and aren’t able to upgrade their technology for long periods of time.
A fundamental change in attitude is required

With the shortage of cybersecurity personnel already working against them, it’s imperative that enterprises do more to attract fresh blood into the industry, starting with the implementation of better, more user-friendly security tools.

Today’s workers are highly adept at using the slick UIs found on popular consumer apps such as Twitter and Facebook. By emulating these more closely in cybersecurity tools, not only can enterprises start to attract more digitally savvy young workers, they can also demonstrate that cybersecurity isn’t all about dark rooms and flashing lights. Rather, it’s about using intuitive apps and software to get the job done both quickly and efficiently.
Below are three key benefits of implementing more intuitive, easy-to-use security software in any enterprise: 

Faster, more effective training for new employees
Millennials think quickly on their feet and often embrace new technology with ease, but they’re also the first to call out a poor interfaces or inefficient processes. They expect technology to be easy-to-use from day one and don’t want to waste time on anything that acts as a barrier to productivity. 
Developing tools that use the same core design principles as popular consumer apps, such as uncluttered UIs, consistent color palettes and clean, concise information timelines, helps with user familiarity right out of the gate. Familiarity breeds confidence, which aids the learning process and helps reduce the amount of training required before new users are fully proficient. 
A seamless transition to BYOD
Mobile is often the platform of choice for millennials. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is also gaining steam in enterprises nationwide, with more than half of organizations now letting employees use their own devices for work purposes. Millennials value enterprise applications with responsive design and efficient functionality that allow them to execute key business functions in just a few taps. 
A broader talent pool to draw from

The benefit of adopting more user-friendly security tools isn’t limited to attracting millennials into the industry. It can also lower the barrier to entry for people from a variety of related sectors that might be looking to make the jump but are hesitant to do so. For example, IT professionals, web designers, help-desk workers etc. already possess many of the core skills that security analysts require, but can be put off by the perceived complexity of specialist security solutions and applications.

However, if these barriers are removed, the talent pool available to draw from can be significantly broadened, bringing fresh thinking and perspective into the industry.
Given the complexity of securing an organization and the shortage of skilled security analysts currently available, it’s imperative that the industry starts doing more to reduce its barriers to entry and dispel the negative myths associated with a career in cybersecurity.

When choosing which cybersecurity tools to implement, it’s only natural to consider the technology under the hood, but enterprises should also take into account how users will interact with the tools they implement.

Focusing on the details when it comes to a user-friendly interface and intuitive operation can lead to safer outcomes and easier adoption, and mean the difference between an efficient workflow and a frustrating one.

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