End User Experience as Security Differentiator

Tad Johnson

In the world of enterprise software, the web browser holds a unique position: it’s the application that we use to access most other enterprise applications. Plenty of business critical applications, along with sensitive data, flow through the humble browser. And yet, in most organizations the browser itself isn’t treated like an enterprise application at all. It’s one of the few examples of consumer software put to use for enterprise workflows.

End User Experience as Security Differentiator

It should come as no surprise that the browser is a favored target for malicious actors, using an ever-evolving suite of sophisticated attacks. With billions of users around the world, consumer browsers are a rich target for malware or exploit developers. That’s also the reason that security leaders are focused on securing the browser itself and treating it like an enterprise application.  

In light of the growing importance of the browser in the enterprise, Forrester recently published a report, “Leading Practices To Secure The Anywhere-Work Browser” that you can read here. The report covers the rapidly evolving browser security landscape, reviewing several emerging threats along with three approaches to improve browser security. The report does a good job of outlining the current state of browser security and makes a strong case to take action. One of the recommendations is to use an enterprise browser (such as Island, the Enterprise Browser). While this report accurately describes the security benefits of an enterprise browser, there’s another angle that deserves attention: improving the end-user experience. 

Balancing Security and User Experience 

In the cybersecurity domain, it’s an unfortunate reality that security and user convenience are often at odds. For example, consider a common login flow: an authentication scheme that uses a complex password and biometric MFA challenge on a separate device is indisputably more secure than a simple password alone. It’s also less convenient. Introducing too much user friction is a drag on productivity, and it can introduce new security risks. Security measures that degrade user convenience create security fatigue and increase the risk that users ignore security warnings entirely. 

This is precisely why it makes sense to implement an enterprise browser in the workplace. Consumer browsers require add-on security measures with added extensions, endpoint agents, or network traffic inspection. In the best case, these are neutral to user convenience; in practice they almost always diminish the overall user experience. 

By contrast, an enterprise browser brings security controls inside the browser and improves user convenience. Returning to the complex authentication example, an enterprise browser can detect the configuration of the device it's running on, what network it’s connected to, and the geographic location. This information enables a complete zero trust authentication scheme without burdening the user with repeated MFA prompts.

Productivity and User Value 

The other aspect of end-user experience that is essential for any successful enterprise application deployment is productivity. Every time a new application is introduced in the workplace, the natural question from users is, “how does this help me get my work done?”. Some examples from the recent past are Slack and Zoom: both applications make their utility plain to see and deliver value immediately. So too must an enterprise browser if it’s going to be embraced by users.

An enterprise browser should make it easier for users to find and access applications. It should include productivity tools like an AI assistant and smart clipboard manager. When a user encounters one of the security controls (like preventing a download with sensitive information) the enterprise browser should provide context about what happened, why, and where to find more information. Put together, an enterprise browser should provide a more convenient, more productive workspace for users. 

The Enterprise Browser Difference 

Securing the browser is a critical objective for any organization that relies on SaaS or web applications for business functions. Forrester’s research “Leading Practices To Secure The Anywhere-Work Browser” outlines why this is important and shares three approaches to securing the browser. The additional consideration of end-user experience and productivity is what distinguishes an enterprise browser from the alternative solutions. 

Hear from customers about how Island, the Enterprise Browser, improves security while improving the end-user experience.

Tad Johnson
Product Marketing Manager

Tad Johnson is the product marketing manager at Island and joined in 2022. He previously led product marketing and product management groups at Jamf, building the leading Apple Enterprise Management platform.

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