Why Security is a UX Problem with Emmanuel Schalit, co-founder and CEO of Dashlane

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Emmanuel Schalit thinks that when it comes to security, convenience is the biggest factor in the choices people make. That’s why, as the co-founder and CEO of Dashlane, he has made building an easy security solution his mission. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Emmanuel explains why he believes the UX of the internet has been the biggest problem when it comes to security and how Dashlane is helping companies overcome that issue.

Best Advice: “Get advice from many people, but always take it with a grain of salt. Don’t follow things blindly because every situation is different.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The UX of the internet makes security harder
  • People tend to do what’s easiest, even if that makes them less secure
  • The traditional perimeter companies used to protect is gone — with more data and resources in the cloud, security has to move there as well

Security’s UX problem

Thinking broadly, Emmanuel says that the reason people don’t focus on having better security online is due to the way the internet is set up. Because of the various interfaces on the websites you go to, trying to come up with new and more secure passwords for each is cumbersome and annoying. So, fundamentally, Emmanuel says that creates a UX problem with a security impact. People choose the path of least resistance and go with the easier solution even if it’s not safer. 

The internet has been about making our lives more convenient. There’s almost no human activity that has not been optimized by technology. The one area of our lives not impacted by technology is the internet itself, which is almost the same as when the internet started. 

“The main reason why people tend to either use the same password everywhere or tend to use passwords that are completely trivial is not because they are stupid, it’s not because they don’t understand the risks, it’s because doing something different, doing something safer is actually very hard because of the UX of the internet.”

“People quite naturally choose the path of least resistance and do things that are easier even though they are not safe.”

“Technology in general, and the internet more specifically has been largely about making our lives more convenient. We do everything using apps and using the internet. Today we date, we order things, we buy food — there’s almost no human activity that has not been optimized by technology. The paradox is in the fact that the one part of our lives that has not been optimized by technology, it’s actually the internet itself, the way we authenticate, the way we conduct eCommerce transactions on the internet is almost the same as what it was 25 years ago. The one thing that Silicon Valley forgot to optimize was the internet itself, which is why security has become a UX problem and the business problem too.” 

Common security problems companies face

Years ago, the bulk of the budget was dedicated to protecting the perimeter of the company because that’s where the precious data was stored and needed to be protected. The move to the cloud has changed the paradigm of security. In the cloud, the only thing that protects data is the credentials of employees and the cybersecurity infrastructure hasn’t adapted to reflect that change. Hostile actors are going to go after the credentials of employees and unless you solve the UX problem, employees will revert back to the simplest action, which is to reuse credentials and to use them across their business and personal accounts. Emmanuel believes that Dashlans has built the only effective solution on the market to let a company know when an employee is reusing a credential between work and home while also maintaining the privacy of the employee. And when an employee leaves the company, they are de-credentialed. 

Regardless of how much a company tries to focus on security, they are still leaving a lot up to employees, though. And the only way to make employees care about security is to off them a benefit and convenience. Dashlane is able to offer both because it was born as a consumer product, which means the team is obsessing constantly about removing the barriers to adoption. Consumers don’t pay for a product they don’t use, so you have a strong incentive to build a product people love, can understand on their own, and will want to use. 

“Even though companies do care are motivated to, uh, improve their security, the weak link is that each and every single employee actually needs something other than security to be motivated. They need to have a benefit that is fundamentally about the thing they care about, which is convenience.” 

“From the perspective of the employee, it makes a lot of sense to have one single product they can use to manage the friction of the internet, to have a much better UX for their internet activity and to use it concurrently for home and for work.”

What is he hearing from CIOs?

Emmanuel says that there has been an acknowledgment that a lot is being done outside of IT in terms of deployment and use of technology. Emmanuel also says that the breadth and intensity of threats and threat vectors being reported have increased significantly. The nature of the threats is much more complex, and so CIOs and CISOs are looking for solutions that have more broad applicability. 

Department heads are also much more interested in creating good employee experiences and providing resources to members of their teams. This is one area where Emmanuel says Dashlane comes into play because it allows for an employee to have both a personal and professional life and to be protected easily in both areas. 

“It’s a challenging time to be a CIO or a CISO in this world.”

“We acknowledge the fact that the border between home and work, it’s very different today than what it was 10 years ago. And that’s where a product like Dashlane fits completely — you recognize that your employees are also consumers, that they’re also people, that they have a life outside of work. And that by doing something for them at work that helps them be more productive and more secure you can also have that benefit leading into their personal life.”

Innovation

The single biggest driver of innovation is diversity and the single biggest killer is groupthink. For that reason, Emmanuel makes diversity a priority at Dashlane. Innovation rarely comes from the top. Dashlane has mission teams assembled around the idea of impacting a specific business metric, they put together a plan to do so, go to the leadership team with a proposal and if the plan is approved, they are allowed to go after a certain business outcome, without ever being asked exactly what they are going to do. They are just trusted to carry out their mission. 

“There’s nothing more exhilarating than building a team, seeing people grow and solving problems.” 

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Emmanuel Schalit, co-founder and CEO of Dashlane, joins the show to discuss the biggest security problems facing companies today.

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