Enterprises Beware: Don’t Let Security Fall into the Consumerization Gap

 Author(s): , Posted on August 16th, 2011

In an earlier post , we noted that the majority of IT decision makers who responded to this year’s survey on the consumerization of IT point to security concerns as a key barrier to enabling employees to use personal devices and consumer applications for work.

Like many free-floating fears, IT managers’ security worries aren’t just paranoid fantasies — they do have some basis in reality. For example, 70 percent of IT respondents to our survey cited employee-provided smartphones as security threats. The research shows that consumer and social technologies are entering the workplace about 50 percent more quickly than IT realizes, so in a sense, the situation that IT managers see as a threat is intensifying.

So what actions are IT executives taking to accommodate this fearsome reality? The short answer is “not enough.”

On the positive side, about 90 percent of IT respondents said that their organizations perform automatic anti-virus updates on employees’ mobile devices and about 60 percent conduct automatic backup for them. Both of these categories are up from last year’s survey.

Yet those organizations have backslid more than they’ve progressed since last year, doing worse in a number of critical areas: requiring employee training, mandating complex passwords, and providing secure access to corporate applications from smartphones.

This lack of broad-spectrum action is as incongruous as it is alarming. IT management does itself no favors if it coasts along in a state of security inertia in the face of legitimate fears that can have significant consequences for the entire enterprise.

The reason for the lack of concerted action may be simple: IT executives feel overwhelmed. For example, 80 percent of our IT respondents say that, generally, consumerization of IT is increasing the departmental workload. When you feel you have to deal with all the contributing factors at once, security can become just one overwhelming and inadequately addressed priority among myriad.

Whatever the specific reasons for this paralysis, the call to action is clear. As Cher memorably said in “Moonstruck,” “Snap out of it!” IT managers need to make security a priority and revisit and revamp their security policies right away. Doing so is a crucial step toward leveraging consumerization of IT, spurring workers’ productivity, and furthering the business interests of the enterprise while protecting vital corporate assets.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.


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