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Mobile Workforce Expected to Increase Security Complexity in 2011

Consumerization and Securing Mobile Data Concerns IT Security Administrators 

Consumerization and Securing Mobile Data Concerns IT Security Administrators 

The trend, variously referred to as consumerization and user-driven IT, has IT security administrators anticipating a significant increase in the number of users connecting to their network in the next year. According to the results of a survey released today by Check Point Software Technologies, 54 percent of IT Security administrators expect specific growth in the number of remote users.Consumerization

According to the survey of over 220 IT security administrators around the world, 64 percent of organizations are concerned the growth in remote users will result in exposure to sensitive data.

Check Point’s research shows that as organizations continue to grow in size, IT administrators are increasingly challenged with securing mobile data and complex IT environments — citing data loss, user management, lost or stolen equipment, and employees connecting to untrusted wireless Internet access as top concerns.

“Mobile computing and the consumerization of IT is no longer a trend but a way of life for most businesses, with employees and contractors demanding more access to business applications and data — from both corporate and personally-owned devices,” said Ben Khoushy, vice president of endpoint products at Check Point Software Technologies. Many organizations haven’t set up an appropriate plan to secure the use of personal laptops and smartphones in the workplace. These vulnerabilities need to be addressed by a combination of technology and user awareness that enforce better security protections to secure data on-the-go.”

Despite a growing mobile workforce, 70 percent of respondents admit they do not use data encryption to secure their business laptops, and 87 percent of organizations do not encrypt USB or portable media devices. This leaves a majority of businesses potentially vulnerable to unauthorized network access from lost or stolen devices. However, anticipating continued growth of the mobile workforce, 52 percent of organizations reported they have VPN clients on their portable PCs and intend to deploy disk encryption (23 percent), encrypted USBs (20 percent) and DLP (17 percent) in the coming year.

In addition, 54 percent of businesses are planning to migrate to Microsoft Windows 7 within the next two years. In effect, businesses are looking to unify endpoint security and make sure new systems are updated with the latest protections.

Check Point’s research also reveals organizations are using an average of nine different vendors to secure their organization’s infrastructure from the network to the endpoint, creating difficulties in security management, particularly for businesses with 500+ employees. Companies combining more than a dozen distinct security solutions are left with large infrastructures, often creating security holes in between point products.

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In a separate report released by Cisco in November, the majority of employees (66 percent) responding to a survey, believe they should be able to connect freely with any device – personal or company-issued – and access the applications and information that they need around the clock.

The Check Point survey was conducted in September 2010, surveying over 220 IT security administrators located in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and Middle East regions. The survey sample represents a wide range of organizations varying in size — from small and medium businesses to large enterprises — and across various industries, including financial, industrial, government, telecommunications, education and healthcare.

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