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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Mobile Workers Require Setting Boundaries vs Building Walls

Post by Peter McCalister November 24, 2010

Although corporate networks today are increasingly open to subcontractors, partners or affiliates, or simply a workforce on the move, the tendency is still to think of security in the same way castles were defended in the middle ages, by building bigger walls – higher, wider and with more built in obstacles.

Indeed, a recent report Borderless Security, has reached similar conclusions – a combination of more mobility, increased social access to information and outsourcing to the cloud requires a change in traditional information security paradigms.

The reports authors add: “People and organizations outside the borders of the traditional corporate environment – play a role in helping to achieve information security objectives, but can also pose a risk to protecting your information.”

Today, personal mobile devices are used regularly by employees for business and to connect to the network, and while known as a vulnerable attack surface for malware, employees are increasingly willing to communicate with each other via social networking sites.

According to Symantec, workers are 35 percent more likely to violate corporate surfing policies when they are on the road, rather than in the office.

While Computerworld also reports that mobile workers are more than five times as likely to trigger blocks relating to prohibited downloads.

Obviously, when we talk about desktops today, it doesn’t just mean the number of MDF bureaus in your building.

So, with so many potential points of entry to sensitive data, so many different attack surfaces from which infection can happen, the shift in perspective required is to think less about building walls and more about establishing clear boundaries.

Employee at their desk or on the move, subcontractor or partner, access to the network should be the same.  When we talk about privileged access, it’s not who is more privileged than who, in terms of their relationship to the company, it simply refers to who gets access to what as defined by their role definition.

As the straight lines of traditional security practice get increasingly blurred and permeable, privilege access, becomes the cornerstone of not just good network security but also good people management.

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