Nordic nations strike the right balance between strong authentication and usability

Last updated: 21 March 2014

The Nordic region has long been considered a liberal, forward-thinking group of countries with a pioneering approach to technology.

In our recent research of CIOs, one statistic in particular appeared to show that this view is more than just a stereotype. When asked which was the more important – ‘security and strong authentication’ or ‘convenience and usability’ – Nordic CIOs were split almost straight down the middle (53 percent choosing security and 47 percent preferring convenience). This was in stark contrast to the other four countries involved, which favoured security by a ratio of almost 3:1.

This more liberal, democratic approach to IT security is mirrored in other responses given by Nordic CIOs: IT leaders in these nations were the least likely to have increased their security budget in the past year, and end users were responsible for their own security in 23 percent of Nordic companies. It was also the only region in which the CEO was more likely to be responsible for security than the CIO.

Yet, when quizzed on the measures already in place, it became clear that the Nordic region is not as ‘laissez-faire’ as it may at first seem. More Nordic companies already have two-factor authentication in place than those in any other country (31 percent), while they are also most likely to have measures in place to ensure secure remote network access.

When one considers that the Nordic nations are in fact more advanced than most others in their adoption of strong security, it becomes easier to understand why they are happy to cede greater responsibility to end users, and to put a greater priority on convenience and usability. Taking this into account, the Nordic nations may well be a strong model for other countries to emulate: putting robust authentication in place first, and then using that as an opportunity to empower end users and improve their experience, safe in the knowledge that their digital actions are secured. Other nations could learn a lot from our peers in Scandinavia and the surrounding area.

As ever, if you want to learn more about our research then you can download the full whitepaper of the findings, free of charge, here.

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