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If users are a security threat, how do you manage them?

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Michael Lawrence, head of enablers, Orange Business Services

Security should no longer be a barrier to the adoption of mobile technologies, but it can still be a serious threat if organisations do not manage the human and technological elements effectively. Research shows that it is the users themselves that most open up organisations to security risks. Smartphones and powerful PDAs tend not to be treated with the same respect as a laptop, but they now hold similar amounts of sensitive corporate information.

However, there are some simple processes which can be put in place to ensure workers across an organisation are taking precautions when out of the office and information being sent and received is protected.

  • Establish a policy that fits solutions to user and business needs - Ensure that security solutions can be adapted to fit the requirements of both the organisation as well as the individual needs of users. It is important that this is discussed at a business rather than technical level.
  • Consult, do not prescribe - Every user should understand the company policy, highlighting best practices and etiquette that users can buy into. All employees should be informed and updated on mobile policy and given a simple and straightforward route for getting support.
  • Evolve - Policy and processes need to adapt to changing technology, threats and usage patterns of mobile working.
  • Top down - Do not make exceptions for senior or more experienced staff.
  • Enforce - Policies must have teeth to be effective, and there are times when rules must be enforced.
  • Simple support - Provide users with a straightforward route to getting support and advice; one number to call, one website to visit, or one email address.
  • Support policy and processes with technology - Not, as is often the case, the other way round.
  • Everyone is responsible - Encourage accountability and this should be lead by the top down.
  • Get perspective - Not everyone is going to toe the line, so put in place a safety net of measures to deal with the most likely eventualities.

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