Partner Perspectives

Protect Yourself by Protecting Others

How the consumerization of IT is affecting endpoint security.

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens on your employees’ personal devices may not stay there. According to a recent survey of consumers around the world, conducted by MSI Research on behalf of Intel Security, almost 80% of respondents use their personal devices for work, and their work devices for personal activities.

Work for many people happens whenever and wherever with whatever device is handy. They may be checking work email on personal laptops in the morning, doing a quick review of documents on their phones while waiting in line for coffee, or editing presentations on tablets (that were forwarded to their personal emails) while watching TV. However it happens, corporate data is wandering around outside the network, potentially unprotected.

At the same time, our busy and connected world is compelling people to do personal activities on their work devices, whether it’s personal email, checking up on their social networks, or shopping online. Whatever your employees are doing, it means that any risky behavior can potentially end up affecting your corporate systems.

With this increasingly blurred line between personal and work spaces, there is the potential for enhanced productivity, intuitive collaboration, and increased responsiveness. There is also the potential for data loss, malware infection, and other malicious traffic. Clearly defined policies on acceptable use, bring your own device, which applications and websites are permitted, where not to access corporate data, and consequences of not following these policies are an excellent place to start.

However, like managing contagious diseases, policy and education are not enough; companies need some preventative actions as well. The majority of people surveyed by MSI Research (77%) feel confident that their employers are protecting their data, whether it is corporate or personal. Unfortunately, this means that they are less likely to take action to protect their devices. Extending corporate endpoint protection to personal devices is like hand washing or vaccines; it is the easiest and most effective method of reducing the spread of infection or malware.

Next is the practice of encrypting corporate data from source to endpoint. With file-sharing services – a common method of moving data between devices – files could be in multiple locations at the same time. In the event that the file-sharing service is hacked or your employee’s phone, tablet, or laptop is lost or stolen, encrypted data is safe from prying eyes, regardless of where the files are stored. End-to-end encryption also protects your data when used in unprotected mobile Wi-Fi locations, which most consumers use without thinking of the risks.

This consumerization of IT has brought with it many improvements in productivity and collaboration, driven by experiences and expectations your employees have outside of work. It is important to support this new paradigm, which means extending your digital security perimeter to protect your company.

Editors' Choice
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading