Context & Content: Meeting The Need For Access & Security

by Grace Cosgrove
August 1, 2019
Productivity and protection? Absolutely.

One of the biggest challenges facing modern businesses is giving employees access to information on-demand whilst protecting their corporate assets – data.

There’s no denying the shift towards mobile working. We work from home more. We work when we travel. We work on different devices. As a result, round-the-clock access is needed to ensure optimum productivity.

However, not everyone in your organisation needs access to everything, all the time. That’s why more and more businesses are using contextual access – which gives users what they need, while ensuring IT departments have more control over how a resource is accessed as well as who is accessing it.

Understanding Contextual Access

Contextual access isn’t a new concept; it’s more a different way of using existing technology. Originally, when a user was created, they were assigned a role granting access to a predefined set of data. Contextual access works in a similar way, but takes more factors into consideration:

  • Location
  • Device
  • Request
  • Time
  • Role

Essentially, the technology monitors different user locations through IP addresses – differentiating between familiar and public networks. In a similar way, it also assesses the type of information being requested, which employee’s asking for it, the time of day the request is being made, and the device being used.

After each factor is taken into consideration, the total risk factor is evaluated and access is either granted or restricted. Contextual access also allows IT departments to define different users’ access to apps and infrastructure.

To give an example: an intern accessing financial documents at 2 am from a coffee shop on a mobile device presents a higher risk versus a CEO accessing the same document from a company computer during office hours.

Better For Business All Round

From an overall security perspective, multi-factor authentication is not enough to secure company data. Passwords are becoming the weakest link in the security chain – and are easily hacked. But with contextual access, a business can allow its employees to remain productive wherever they are, while securing the company network from possible breaches and attacks.

Not implementing a contextual access solution puts businesses at risk and also restricts access to a set number of locations or IP addresses. A non-contextual solution also limits access to approved or trusted devices; and forces users to use 2 factor authentication.

While it may seem as though contextual access is a specialised service, platforms such as Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) are making it available to small businesses; who can tap into Azure’s strong security infrastructure and take advantage of its subscription-based offering.

That’s how we’re helping our clients here at Enterprise Solutions; specifically by addressing security between users and the different cloud-based SaaS applications businesses need access to.

In this way, we’re able to automate contextual access decisions that uphold our clients’ security parameters and give their employees the on-demand access they need to do their jobs in a way that keeps them happy and productive.

Want to find out more? Talk to us today!

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