Today’s fashion of cyberthreats is one that focuses not on a single entity, but more often on a range of interconnected platforms and channels. As such, it has become important that IT administrations – as well as any Internet user – implement security plans that focus more on protecting data rather than individual endpoints.
At the heart of this data-centric approach to cybersecurity is the cloud. In recent years, the cloud has taken the enterprise by storm, as online data storage, hosted email, web-based telephone systems and more are being used to ease the burden of on-premise hardware and on the IT department as a whole.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the cloud is its interconnectivity, or the ability to provide access to data and applications to any device, whether it’s a desktop at the office, a laptop at home, a smartphone on the road or a tablet for everything in between.
This may also be the cloud’s greatest challenge. A recent TechTarget report identified mobile devices as one of the top data management concerns among today’s companies. Citing a study from Forrester Research, TechTarget news director Christana Torode noted that data security is the No. 1 data management priority for businesses in 2012, with mobile devices being a significant part of that.
Having grown accustomed to the one-employee-one-computer standard of old, businesses are struggling to adjust to the new security demands that come with data being accessible from countless endpoints. And with the growing popularity of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in the workplace, it may be impossible for a company to know just how many devices are accessing its network.
Given the interconnectivity of the cloud, cyberthreats are no longer limited to one device. Instead, if one endpoint is infected and able to access the company network, it could put virtually all computers and mobile devices in jeopardy.
Therefore, rather than beefing up endpoint security, it is becoming more necessary that the culture of data protection in the workplace shifts to one focused more on safeguarding the data itself. This means implementing solutions that can stop threats in the cloud before they spread to the end user.
According to a December 2011 study from Good Technology, 72 percent of surveyed companies formally support BYOD programs. Of those, 44.9 percent have deployed their programs to support employees in multiple countries. Even highly regulated industries, like healthcare and insurance, are embracing BYOD.
This will be especially evident at the start of 2012, as more employees come back from the holidays with smartphones, tablets and other electronics in hand.
“Just as we saw last year, smartphones and tablets will be popular gifts this holiday season, and come January employees will bring these devices to work in droves,” said Good Technology senior vice president John Herrema.
The majority of companies are turning to BYOD programs to reduce costs and improve employee mobility. In fact, according to the study, 62 percent of those businesses that support BYOD have at least 21 percent of their employees enabled for mobility. This, in turn, can improve employee productivity, as they are afforded the opportunity to work on devices that best suit their needs, from locations where they are most comfortable.
So while the advantages of BYOD, interconnectivity and the cloud are clear, the data security challenges must not be ignored. Right now, the task of protecting one’s data is in a transition state as businesses move from on-premise IT solutions to virtualized and cloud-based services. However, as the latter becomes more prevalent, the need for data-centric security will be evident.
Cloud Computing News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro