People are moving around more at work while being more connected than ever before - and not only to their company’s network.
Many users plump for using their personal mobile devices, smartphones or laptops at work as well as at home, simplifying - in their view - the management of growing volumes of data, but potentially causing problems down the track.
In a diverse, high-speed situation, who can honestly say they take all the care needed to stay safe, let alone protect against all eventualities, whether on the IT network or anywhere else? This is a critical question for resellers and other IT providers when considering how best to approach their customers about sales opportunities resulting from consumerisation.
This first in a series of four feature articles, sponsored by security specialist Eset, investigates what the consumer-driven need for speed means for the IT professional or reseller charged with keeping control of the network and maintaining compliance.
CRN carried out an opinion poll in November among its readers. This survey found that 65.7 per cent of those who responded to the question were worried about the potential security risks posed by consumerisation, where personal mobile devices are being connected to their customers’ corporate networks. Just 34.3 per cent registered no concerns about this issue.
Respondents to the survey cited a wide variety of reasons for their answer to this question. One said, succinctly: “The security is then outside our remit.”
And there is the rub: how far exactly can the organisation or reseller go to ensure its data is kept safe? Meanwhile, the same customer organisations are weighed down by the need to comply with a growing body of regulation concerning data privacy and handling - well intended, but too often difficult to implement with confidence.
“Any device on the network is a suspected delivery avenue for hackers,” said one respondent.
The largest body of respondents who said they have concerns also indicated that there is potential for such personal mobile devices to fall prey to hackers, various kinds of malware, or attacks that came in under the radar as part of the “personal” use of such devices.
Risk perceived as real
So it seems that the risks of consumerisation in a more mobile, data-intensive environment are being perceived as real enough, which should be a boon to any vendor or reseller looking to address customer pain points in the future.
One respondent noted that employees, furthermore, often do not understand that damage can be done to the company by them using their personal, consumer-oriented devices on the corporate network. This similarly underlines an opportunity for resellers, in partnership with vendors, to educate customers and provide support to those who need, in turn, to educate and train their own staff.
One respondent said: “The downloading of all types of data to tablet and mobile devices is very common and there is limited protection available on these devices.”
Another said: “The security of the device is not the issue. It is the employee [who uses it],” as one respondent noted: “A dedicated network can be provided; restrictions can be set.”
Why should consumer-oriented devices such as Apple’s iPhone or iPad be less secure than more “corporate” ones such as an HP laptop? Often, the difference may simply be one of having access to the right applications, interoperability and management features. These can frequently be addressed with the right products and services, or - failing that - with an innovative, creative workaround.
■ The next three articles in this series will explore further the issues of consumerisation and how resellers can tackle them, benefiting both themselves and their customers.
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