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Temp Workers Pose Large Security Challenge

Adding extra help for the holiday rush -- or any crunch-period -- requires taking extra time to seal any potential security holes. But according to Websense, many of you won't.
Adding extra help for the holiday rush -- or any crunch-period -- requires taking extra time to seal any potential security holes. But according to Websense, many of you won't.The security company's research into UK temp worker access to company information holds some shocking findings -- but, frankly, few surprises.

More than 60 percent of the temp-hires surveyed were given a current employee's existing log-in; more than half were allowed to share an existing e-mail address.

More than 35 percent were given passwords for company systems.

More 90 percent could print whatever they wanted from the company's files.

Get this: 42.1 percent of the surveyed short-timers were allowed to connect personal digital devices -- iPods, thumb drives, etc. -- to company equipment... and thus to company networks and information.

Don't even ask about unfettered temp access to the Internet or social networking sites. Websense did, and the answers showed that anything goes as far as temps going anywhere on the Web they want. On your time, on your equipment, with your passwords.

Needless to say, few of the temps were asked to read, much less sign and agree-to, any sort of network-use policy. 78.9 percent, in fact, hit the access ground running: passworded but policyless.

Now it's neither fair nor accurate to tar all or even most temp workers with the suspicion-brush. Most of the temps you hire will work responsibly and professionally; some of you will hire some of them as permanent employees.

What is fair and accurate is the conclusion that lame security policies as far as temp workers go are reflections of the ongoing focus on getting jobs done quickly and economically, rather than getting jobs done quickly, economically and securely.

In other words, taking on temp workers to help with the workload means taking on the extra -- but essential -- work of limiting their netwrk access, educating them about what you do and don't permit with company equipment and log-ons, creating and having them sign enforceable security policies before they start their jobs, however temporary and short-time those jobs are.

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