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Consumerisation of IT in the Workplace is Risky Business, say CIOs

Two thirds of European IT managers believe personal devices pose a threat to office systems, yet many fail to monitor them properly.


Date: 8 Dec 2011

According to independent research from Absolute® Software Corporation, nearly two thirds – 64 per cent – of IT directors, managers and CIOs see the integration of personal devices as too great a risk to the enterprise. This is despite almost half – 49 per cent – acknowledging that the integration of personal and business IT requirements was necessary for ‘the future’ of their organisation.

The findings came from a survey conducted by independent IT, technology and communications research specialist Coleman Parkes, on behalf of Absolute Software. 300 CIOs and IT directors across a variety of vertical sectors in the UK, France and Germany were interviewed.

“More and more employees expect to be able to use their personal devices for work, whether it’s to access the network and business emails through their smartphone or viewing company information on a tablet,” said John Livingston, CEO at Absolute Software. “However, auditing and managing, let alone securing, employee-owned devices across a whole host of operating platforms, presents a huge challenge for IT departments, so it comes as no surprise that CIOs have concerns about integration.”

Whilst IT departments remain anxious about the risk of integrating these devices, it appears that the content on employees’ personal and corporate devices remains largely unregulated and unmonitored.

The research showed that it was employees who were most consistently given responsibility for the content on devices, despite the ICO holding organisations ultimately accountable for loss or exposure of corporate information.

A third of organisations – 31 per cent – interviewed left employees responsible for the content on their corporate devices and 41 per cent in charge of the content on personal devices used for business. Those who took control away from the employee distributed responsibility amongst line managers (Corporate device (CD) – 16%, Personal device (PD) – 8%), risk managers (CD – 8%, PD – 8%), compliance professionals (CD – 22%, PD – 15%) and the IT department (CD – 23%, PD – 27%). 18 per cent of companies had no policies at all in place to manage use of personal devices or their access to company information.

“Whilst companies need to uphold their employees’ right to privacy, it’s imperative that corporate and customer data remains protected,” continued Livingston. “IT departments need to be able to appropriately monitor and control the content that employees can access through their personal devices. The ability to set perimeters around access, storage and sharing of corporate information via these devices will go a long way in defending the organisation against security risks.”

The survey also found that 15 per cent of organisations have responded to consumerisation with an all-out ban. Whilstthis may appear to be a fail-safe method for reducing risk, organisations could end up frustrating employees who seek greater flexibility in their working practices. There is also the chance of those same members of staff circumventing policy to access the network without the necessary security in place, according to Livingston.

Absolute Software recently launched its latest endpoint management solution to overcome the challenges of securing and managing mobile devices. AbsoluteManage 6.0 offers the only single, unified console that natively enables IT administrators to manage all of their Mac, PC, Android, and iOS devices by automating IT processes such as software distribution, patch management, and asset inventory.

In order to address the risk of corporate information being accessed through employee-owned devices Absolute Manage 6.0 also includes the world’s first secure document control application for iOS – AbsoluteSafe. The app allows IT departments to securely distribute sensitive or confidential files to employee devices that can be read but not printed, shared or copied. IT administrators can also shut down access to corporate networks at a pre-defined time, or limit the availability of a document.


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