Functionality vs. Security

BY IT GLUE | February 19, 2021

Do you have to choose between functionality and security? I think anybody in IT will say no, but if you‘re ever had to argue with a client about implementing MFA, you know that the question isn’t always as straightforward for people outside the IT space. In recent years, we have seen a rise in data breaches and cyberattacks, which has made the debate an even more contentious yet relevant one.

That’s why we put this question across to MSP leaders from our community. We wanted to get their take and where they stand on this debate.

Based on our responses, most of the leaders agreed that you need a balance between the two. While they believe the recent spike in cybercrimes calls for greater emphasis on security, they also stress that it shouldn’t be at the expense of functionality. Bryan Parsons of SpiderGroup highlighted this well in his statement, “You always have to reach a compromise; the most secure system wouldn’t allow anyone access, and what good would that be!”

Michael Kanet from ITernal Networks echoed the same. He said, “We look at security first for everything, but you have to find the sweet spot between security and functionality. If everything is locked down so tight that endusers can’t easily perform their job, then you have a big problem. Every solution should have layers of security, but still be easy to use.”

Jeff Lord of Circle Computer Resources suggested that you should put the two in the right order but do not lose sight of either. He believes “Functionality must fit. Find, sell, and deliver the ideal solution, then put the right security behind the service.” Premier Technology’s Ray Sweeney too noted that “functionality (which is a driver of costs) needs to be balanced and be regularly adjusted via a business case.”

Jeff Chang of Chicago Microsystems warned that too much focus on security could diminish your security posture. He explains, “Security is very important; however, it is contingent on if you can still provide it in a matter that allows users to do what they have to do to be productive. If security is set up in such a way as to cause the users to have to use shadow IT or create workarounds to getting their work done, that often diminishes the security posture as a whole.”

On the flip side, Just Fix IT’s Alex Beilby cautioned against neglecting security. He shared that “Extra functionality and user performance are more popular, but when we advise customers, we try to drill home that security is more important. If you neglect security, your corporate liability and risk from a data breach can outweigh any short-term functionality gain.”

In conclusion, it is almost impossible to prioritize one over the other. It can adversely affect your MSP and can even lead to long-term damage to your business. Sam Gridley of Integration Technologies summed up the debate very succinctly “There’s an inverse relationship between security and functionality. When you increase one, then the other goes down. The secret is to strike a balance to get the best of both.”

At IT Glue, we believe that functionality and security are equally important, and that’s why we always strive to be the best in class for both in the documentation space.

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