Security threat increases with more remote workers

Monday, June 21, 2010 @ 06:06 PM gHale

By allowing staff to work remotely, security risks continue to rise, according to a new survey.
Even though all respondents said their workforce was increasingly mobile, 80% said they found it difficult to manage and secure ever-more sophisticated mobile devices, according to an integrator, Damovo UK, survey of over 200 United Kingdom IT directors at companies of 1,000 or more employees.
“As smart phones and other mobile devices become increasingly popular, they pose an increasing security threat to the unprepared business,” said Roger Hockaday from Aruba Networks. “For an easier life, many IT departments would choose to limit the devices that are allowed to access corporate networks – but with demand for the coolest gadgets often coming from senior executives – this choice is often taken away from them.”
Companies should look for a strategy of prioritizing, managing and viewing all devices on the corporate network.
While IT departments focus on securing wired networks and fixed corporate devices, mobile devices rarely connect to the legacy wired network. Once they come to this realization then the IT departments have to rethink security and management options, if they want to support a mobile workforce.
Wireless networks not caught in port-based, location-specific wired networks, present a viable solution and allow mobile devices to connect to a network and are secure enough without impacting employee freedom.
In addition, the survey found in most cases workers are using one mobile device for business and personal use which can make enforcing mobile usage policies difficult. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of IT directors said they found enforcing mobile usage policies very difficult. The survey also found 88% of respondents said they would like better visibility of their employees’ mobile usage in order to better manage costs and improve mobile security across their organization.
Currently, mobile security often falls into the hands of the end users meaning someone can learn important company and personal data easily if devices are lost or stolen. In addition, the onus is on the end user to return mobile devices to the IT department or the device manufacturer when software needs upgrading. As a result, companies have different devices running different software versions with differing levels of protection. Over 80% of IT directors said such inconsistent upgrade cycles were leading to increased mobile security and performance concerns. At the same time, 94% also believed users should decommission their mobile devices in a more secure manner, considering the increasing amounts of sensitive personal and business data today’s devices hold.
“It is clear that IT should play a key role in the procurement of mobile devices, as it is best suited to the role from a cost, security and management perspective. The latest mobile device management solutions can provide IT departments with far greater visibility and control over the mobile devices on their network. Features such as ‘over the air’ updates’, data encryption and remote data wiping also means that IT departments can have greater peace of mind that their workforces’ mobile devices are secure, especially if they fall into the wrong hands,” said Alex Donnelly, portfolio manager at Damovo UK.

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