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7 UX Design Tips for Improving Users Data Security

It’s no secret that data security has become a defining issue of our time. Events throughout the last decade have revealed to the public just how little privacy they have online.

In 2013, whistle-blower Edward Snowden leaked confidential information about the extent to which the US government collects and utilizes personal data .This expose caused an outward ripple of shock and outrage.

Only a few years later, Facebook found themselves in hot water . It was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm, acquired and sold user data collected from millions of Facebook profiles to US political campaigns.

While these controversies don’t reveal the full scope of data security issues, they gained enough publicity to create a spike in global awareness. Thanks to the efforts of whistle-blowers and activists, the public has become far more careful about how they interact with the internet. In turn, legal restrictions on the gathering and usage of personal data have tightened.

With users becoming increasingly aware of their data privacy rights, websites have become far more transparent and cautious about what kind of data they harvest and what they do with it.

When users don’t trust a website’s security or integrity, they will likely avoid using it at all costs. This article will explore a few ways that developers can protect their users’ data and improve the user experience, thereby building trustworthy reputations.

1. Prioritize Transparency

The first step to ethical data collection is honesty. Make sure that your users know what data you are gathering and why. Go beyond simply providing a link to your privacy policy. The vast majority of users will not be willing to take the time to read it, and those that do will likely find legal jargon off putting.

Putting in the effort to provide a simplified yet comprehensive overview of your privacy policy for users to skim before proceeding on your site is key. It allows them to make informed choices about what they’re consenting to, which in turn will build trust.

2. Inform Users About Phishing and Other Online Fraud

Protect your users and let them know that you have their best interests at heart. Keep them up to date on common methods used by hackers and fraudsters to obtain personal information.

Phishing attacks have become a serious problem. Phishing refers to the technique used by criminals to steal personal data by impersonating organizations like banks and other official entities, asking for passwords and other sensitive information.

While many users are savvy enough to spot a phishing attempt, some fraudsters are exceedingly clever. They know just how to manipulate their target into cooperating. UX designers can create banners or discreet pop-ups to keep users informed about the latest phishing techniques. Or they can provide an easy to access communication channel for reporting fraud or spam.

3. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a simple but effective protective measure to prevent hacking attempts. Adding an additional layer of security beyond a username and password can prevent the potential consequences of data breaches and discourage would-be hackers.

The problem with two-factor authentication is the extra effort that users have to go through to access their accounts. For many users, this is annoying and off-putting. Overuse of CAPTCHA verification processes or OTPs can rapidly lead users to complain or abandon your platform altogether.

Therefore, a smart UX designer must use their discretion to decide when two-factor authentication is necessary. For instance, when any sensitive financial information is involved, it has become standard practice. When there is minimal risk of valuable information getting stolen, a simple username and password login is usually sufficient.

4. Encourage Strong Passwords

There are several password checker tools that UX designers can integrate into their registration process to help users create stronger passwords. Letting users know when their passwords are likely to be insufficiently secure helps avoid data breaches and builds trust for your platform.

Humans are creatures of habit, and many of us would happily use the same old simple password we first created years ago. Unfortunately, as security measures become more advanced, so do hacking tools. Nowadays, the more complex and randomized a password is, the better.

5. Inform Users About SSL Encryption

The more transparent you are about your security measures, the more likely users are to trust your platform. They’re also more inclined to play their part in protecting their data—choosing strong passwords, avoiding clickbait, and keeping their email secure.

Informing users about SSL encryption and why it is standard for websites to use will elevate the average user’s awareness. They’ll understand more about potential risks and make better decisions about which services to trust and what steps they can take to keep their data secure.

6. Don’t Allow Plain Text Password Submission

There is some debate over whether or not it is necessary to use a hash algorithm when sending or storing user passwords. However, an extra layer of security is never a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t make the UX more tedious or difficult.

Hashing a password as a user logs in can prevent hackers from gaining access to a password in plain text. Any hashed password when subjected to decryption will appear as a random, meaningless string of characters. Generally, any time a password is stored or sent; it is safer to have it hashed.

7. Use Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication systems require a physical verification of the user’s identity. The most common biometric technology used for this purpose is fingerprint recognition. It has become a standard feature on most smartphones and some laptops.

Biometric authentication is extremely difficult to circumvent. Which is why many security systems use it as part of the authentication process. If a user has a device that is compatible with biometrics, they should be able to use it in place of or in conjunction with their username and password. Fingerprint recognition technology is the most widely used biometric security feature as it is the cheapest to integrate.

Designers simply need to build a UX-optimized site that makes biometric functionality easy to use, and quick for users to implement.

Making Changes For A Safer UX

In today’s world you need so much more than just an easy to navigate website. You need one that’s safe and secure for users too.

UX designers need to update existing sites and design new ones with these principles in mind to ensure users feel confident browsing and sharing their information. In the long run, your business will benefit.

If you are interested in learning more about our approach to the items discussed in this article, call (970) 744-3611 or send us an email so we can talk about what that would look like.

Lois Ingram

Lois Ingram
Guest Blogger - Writer & Editor