Why IT Security Staff Want You to Work at the Office

Sue Marquette Poremba

When CEO Marissa Mayer announced she was ending telecommuting at Yahoo, she made an awful lot of people angry. Her reasoning, according to various articles, had to do with bringing the employees together for face-to-face collaborations. However, there may be a lot of IT security professionals who are applauding the decision for another reason.

According to a new report from Imation, IT decision makers have much less confidence in data security when workers are off site, even when the company has strong mobile security policies in place. One of the key findings of the report was this:

The survey asks IT decision makers about their confidence that data is protected from loss or theft while workers are in the office, at home and traveling on the road. The percentage of respondents replying “extremely confident” or “very confident” drops as a worker is more “mobile.” For workers who are in the office, 73 percent of IT decision makers across all geographies are either “extremely confident” or “very confident” that data accessed by employees is protected from loss or theft. For employees working at home, that number drops to 55 percent and further still to 47 percent for workers “on the road.”

However, the mobile workforce isn’t going anywhere. While companies can follow Mayer’s example all they want, employees will still work remotely. They’ll still check email on their smartphones. They’ll log into their home computer to pull together a report.


And the numbers above show that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve security in-house. Seventy-three percent is high, but remember, being confident about security isn’t the same as actual security. After all, how many surveys have we seen where the belief about a company’s security management didn’t match the reality? Taking that into consideration, I would suspect that actual security for mobile devices is much lower than the confidence levels.

So, maybe Marissa Mayer wasn’t off-base with her decision, especially in light of Yahoo’s recent security issues.  Even so, concerns with mobile security are only going to rise. Insisting employees show up at the workplace rather than work from home or the coffee shop isn’t going to stop the way we approach technology. Instead, the time has come to look at the numbers in that survey and figure out why we don’t trust mobile security. Once you understand why, you can start to improve it.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 5, 2013 12:00 AM David David  says:
Hi Sue, I am a major supporter of the mobile workers. I work at a digital marketing agency and our company encourages us to take advantage of all of our mobile work tools such as VPN access to company servers, cloud based Outlook, cloud based project management platform, among others. I think that mobile security should start with careful planning. Instead of forcing everybody to tied to their desks, there should be more incentives to encourage "safe" mobile work behaviors. Why do we need to continue to spend so much time commuting to get somewhere? Reply
Mar 11, 2013 11:54 AM Deborah Aello Deborah Aello  says:
Thanks for this article, Sue! I found it very informative. I just want to left you know that our company focuses on data security utilizing information rights technology. Losing your data can be a thing of the past, even in the age of BYOD. With our cutting edge technology your data is always safe. We are the only company in North America with this technology and we are proud to include Fortune 500 clients on our client list. Please feel free to take a look at our website, and who knows...maybe even blog about it. ;) All the best, Deborah Aello Director of Operations, IRM Secure Reply

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