As technology continues to move forward exponentially, end users are flocking to the latest versions of notebooks, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.
Against this backdrop, remote data security (RDS) is becoming increasingly important for businesses. Having an appropriate data protection strategy across the board in any organization can help ensure that the company protects its end users, shields its intellectual property and protects its rights.
However, many businesses fail to do so, as convenience tends to trump security, says Steve Carter, president and CEO of ii2P.
“We try to make small and medium-sized businesses aware that it’s a mistake to only focus on convenience,” he says. “Security should never be a subordinate element when transitioning toward remote data platforms.”
Smart Business spoke with Carter about what businesses need to know about RDS to keep their data safe.
What are the challenges associated with RDS?
First, it’s important to understand how the concern of RDS came to be: We, the users, created it. The introduction and proliferation of mobile computing devices put business-centric technology in the hands of an increasingly mobile work force.
In recent years, laptops, notebooks, tablet PCs, iPads, smartphones and other devices have become instruments of the business enterprise. In other words, they became information interchange enablers.
One thing that has remained constant is that data is still the end user’s primary concern. As such, access to and exchange of corporate data — now through remote devices — has surfaced as one of the most pressing needs of businesses.
Safeguarding the transfer of corporate data across remote devices requires controls. However, to an end user, controls mean inconvenience. And inconvenience often translates to, ‘I won’t take the necessary precautions to protecting my data.’ As a result, data is now being transmitted across more open or mobile platforms by users who are sidestepping security in favor of convenience.
Hasn’t technology adapted to address the needs of exchanging corporate data?
Absolutely. In fact, every generation of new mobile technology devices is amazingly more capable of delivering and exchanging data remotely. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that the ability to exchange information is much more effective than our ability to control data security remotely.
Having data secured in a mobile environment is the essential ingredient. It’s not enough just to have it delivered. We are all in support of making data convenient, but it has to be secure, as well. There has to be a balanced strategy.
What is the weakest link with RDS?
In some regards, this is a real paradox. Remote data access was designed for the end user, but the end user is, without a doubt, the weakest link. Something as simple as password management provides a great example of how end users tend to overlook security measures. Users will write down their passwords, tape them underneath the keyboard, use the same one for everything, or store them in the cloud.
The increase in the loss of information, malware intrusion and identity theft is due to the nature of the end user who is unaware of the importance of secure protection in their environment, and has difficulty seeing the value when technology serves as an inhibitor of their convenience. The bottom line is that end users will always default to convenience over security. It will take a behavior change at the end user level to correct this.
Bring your own device, or BYOD, is becoming more commonplace at businesses. How will this affect RDS?
It’s important to keep a close eye on this development. The market initially said, ‘Mobile devices are opening up the dynamics of enabling global business. There is no need to stay confined in the office any longer. This is more convenient for the user.’
Next, the market said, ‘It’s more effective and efficient to allow end users to pick their own technology platform. So let them bring their own device to work. Just make sure they can access their data. This is more convenient for the user.’ Then the market said, ‘Store your data in the cloud, where it’s easier and faster to access and stockpile. This is more convenient for the user.’
Put this all together and there is an accelerating adoption of every mobile computing technology — each calling for faster remote access to business-critical corporate data — residing in virtual data repositories. And if you ask end users which is more important to them, convenience or security, the answer you’re most likely to receive is convenience.
How should small to medium-sized businesses approach the RDS challenge?
The market is calling for a robust solution that secures the end user from a variety of different functionality levels, from remote identity and access management to a secure, portable computing environment on managed and unmanaged workstations or devices. However, because convenience is trumping security at the end user level, businesses should investigate those products that make it easy for the end user to embrace RDS.
Steve Carter is president and CEO of ii2P. Reach him at (817) 442-9292 or email@example.com.
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