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This topic is never-ending, at least at our company: security and usability stand in each other’s way. Signing in, for example, represents a deliberate barrier designed to increase information security. It also ensures that a user has to enter their username and password when they want to access content. I personally use a digital password manager to make the process of signing in and managing constantly changing and increasingly secure passwords easy and to achieve a high level of usability. And as a part of security audits, we also encourage all our employees to do the same.

Password managers like these are a good example of how usability and security can be interwoven to create an acceptable solution. 

Another good example is Google’s two-factor authentication app. And sure, I know a procedure like this is almost always annoying because you have to enter a random series of numbers in some app that you receive by text or email. Google, on the other hand, has already solved the problem of signing in to an app (e.g. Gmail) on your smartphone. If I am already signed into Gmail and my corresponding Google account, I can confirm this on another device (e.g. my notebook) by calling up the app without having to enter any numbers, which is less complex. Suddenly, an annoying security measure became a convenience. 

It’s not as if password managers or two-factor authentication make usability optimal. But they’re a good compromise. And that’s what it’s all about in an intranet. 

It’s impossible to achieve both maximum security and maximum usability.

I caution against believing that you can purchase an “obviously insecure system” and publish “little business-critical information” there. That sounds absurd the moment you say it. But that’s how many people actually think. Information from your company can easily be used for social hacking. Hackers use a combination of internal information to elicit trust and then gather other information until they have enough to carry out a digital break-in. 

The confidentiality of information is directly related to its relevance and appeal to a company. If you only intend to publish generic corporate propaganda, you can be consistent and use a public platform. But then it’s not an intranet and you won’t attract any long-term attention from your employees. And if you publish relevant information, you need to secure it after all. 

You’ve probably noticed by now that usability is extremely important to me. In contrast, however, most of our customers are more focused on security. 

The best approach is to succeed in defining an approximate strategy together with your intranet team: Where do you want to position the project? Are security and usability equally important to you? If in doubt, what is more important, usability or security? 

Some of your positioning in relation to these questions should already be determined in advance by your corporate culture, the type and nature of your business model, and the preferences of your decision-makers. If you have clarity on this, it will help you tremendously in your further planning.


Link to this page: https://seibert.biz/intranetbooksecurity


The Social Intranet

Foster collaboration and strengthen communication. Be effective with enterprise intranets mobile and in the cloud.

Virtual Collaboration in Companies: Social Intranets as a Digital Home 

Never before has the business world been so overrun by cloud software and specialized vendors as it is now. There is so much software out there that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of things. It is all the more important for the future of work to have a place for digital meeting - a reliable home port meaningfully networked with numerous other systems that makes it quick and easy to navigate. This will increase transparency in the company and make collaboration more effective. Based on many years of experience, this book tells you how it already works in today's digitalized world and which trends you probably should rather than shouldn't follow.

About the author

Martin Seibert was 17 when he founded the software company Seibert Media. Twenty-four years later, it has nearly 200 employees and generates 35 million euros in annual sales. He has been sharing his enthusiasm for technology in YouTube videos for many years - and now also in his new book about social intranets.


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This page was last edited on 03/31/2021.