Coming to Terms with IT Mutiny

Charlene OHanlon

Once upon a time, enterprise IT and consumer technologies were vastly different animals, each with its own set of features, functions and benefits to assist the audience it was designed to serve.

Now times have changed and a growing number of enterprise companies are seeing a steady infiltration of smartphones, tablet computers and other consumer-oriented devices being used in the workplace. For a company ready to handle the security challenges that may come with such devices, an infiltration is no big deal and even might be viewed as a productivity enhancer. But a company not ready to welcome such devices may have major problems ahead.

RSA recently released two studies about the increase in consumer devices in the enterprise, each chock full of some interesting-and telling-statistics. Of note, more than half (53 percent) of the 400 companies responding to one of the surveys have no plans in place to allow employees to use their personal computers or mobile devices on the company network, nor give them the choice of what type of computer or mobile device they'd like to use. What's more, 40 percent of the respondents never allow employees to connect their personal devices to the corporate network, due to fears of corporate espionage or the risk of infecting the network.

That said, only 11 percent of the survey respondents said they are confident in their security readiness regarding increased use of consumer technologies. And just 22 percent actually sit down with users to develop a risk assessment and mitigation plan to protect the company.

Yikes. Those numbers speak to an inaction that is akin to closing the barn door and hoping the fire doesn't spread.

Employees have successfully staged an IT mutiny, preferring the features and ease of use of their own computing devices over what the enterprise is offering. As we move to a mobile workforce and increasingly an officeless enterprise, the old ways of managing IT are going the way of the dinosaur.

Quickly evaporating are the days of IT department-controlled computing, with its desktop systems and help desk model of problem-solving.

But that's not to say that the enterprise IT department is dead. Companies need to reinvent their IT departments to stay on top of emerging technologies and get ahead of the curve in keeping their networks secure no matter what devices are connecting to them. The face of enterprise technology has changed, but many of the same threats remain. That, unfortunately, will never change. Which is why the IT department will always have a job.

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