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8/30/2010
01:13 PM
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IT Security Unleashes Employee Complaints

Protecting enterprise data and systems while maintaining employee productivity is a delicate balance for CIOs, finds Robert Half survey.




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For 12% of CIOs, hearing complaints from employees over IT security measures -- specifically, limits on their access to certain types of websites or networks while using the office network -- is a common occurrence. Meanwhile, 29% of CIOs say such gripes are at least "somewhat common."

The numbers come from a survey of more than CIOs, selected randomly from companies in the United States with 100 or more employees, conducted by staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

"There will always be employees who feel IT security policies are too restrictive," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "But in most situations, robust information security measures are necessary to protect sensitive data and an organization's network integrity from increasingly sophisticated threats."

On the other hand, said Reed, if too many people are complaining, then maybe it's time to reevaluate whether an organization's security policies have come down on the wrong side of the security-versus-productivity equation.

Rather than worrying whether their security policies are too restrictive, however, many organizations have a more fundamental problem: they lack any security policies, or else mechanisms for automatically enforcing those policies.

The result in either case is the same: employees often take their chances, ignoring any rules that they think are slowing them down, such as social networking restrictions or file transfer rules. According to numerous studies, when it comes to flouting security policies, IT personnel can be amongst the worst offenders.

But if corporate security or web access rules are cramping your style and making it harder to do your job, Reed recommends speaking up. "Some policies may simply be outdated and no longer make sense," he said. "Asking someone in your organization's IT department why access is restricted is often one of the quickest ways to resolve an issue."

If policies aren't judged to be outdated, he suggests talking up the business reasons for why they should change. "If employees can't access a client's website or a professional networking site that can generate business, it will probably be an easy case to make," he said.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.