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IT Isn't Keeping Up With End Users, Study Says

Most organizations unable to keep up with users' job responsibilities and access rights, Ponemon study says
Many enterprises are still unable to keep up with the shifts in end-user responsibilities, forcing them to provide too much access to data and making security policies difficult to enforce, according to a study released today.

The study, which was conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by security tool vendor Aveksa, indicates that despite a variety of administrative tools for managing end user security, many enterprises are still unable to keep up with changing user access needs -- or prevent users from accessing data or applications they don't need.

User access rights continue to be poorly managed, according to Ponemon, which conducted similar studies in 2008 and 2009. Eighty-seven percent of respondents to the 2010 survey believe their end users have too much access to information resources that are not pertinent to their job description -- up 9 percent from the 2008 study.

Organizations are not able to keep pace with changes to users' job responsibilities, the study says. Nearly three out of four organizations -- 72 percent -- say they cannot quickly respond to changes in employee access requirements, and more than half (52 percent) say they cannot keep pace with the number of access change requests that come in on a regular basis.

Fifty-nine percent of organizations either don't have access governance policies -- or do not strictly enforce them if they do, the study says. Sixty-one percent do not immediately check access requests against security policies before the access is approved and assigned.

Granting end-user access to information resources is increasingly seen as a responsibility for business units, not IT staff, the study says. Nearly two out of five respondents -- 37 percent -- say business unit managers in their organizations are responsible for end-user access requests to information resources -- up 8 percent from 2008. Conversely, IT and security personnel saw their overall responsibility drop 2 percent to 23 percent in the 2010 study.

The adoption of cloud computing technologies could make the situation worse, according to the study. Nearly three out of four (73 percent) respondents say that adoption of cloud-based applications will have a significant impact on end users' ability to circumvent existing access policies.

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