Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Device dilemma

When the first mobile phones arrived, few could have predicted that they would evolve into small personal computers with highly interactive user interfaces. Little did we guess the amount of data they can now hold!

Then along came tablet computers - just as capable as the smartphones, but with larger screens. Coupled with a convenient cloud computing service, the sky is the limit!

For the first time, computers are becoming truly user-friendly. My 3-year old daughter is a whizz on her iPad, and routinely does things that I would not have dreamed of doing when I first programmed a computer in the early 1980s! My father - a confirmed computer luddite - really enjoys using his android tablet. But for every innocent person who envisages  wonderful new applications for these devices, there are an equal number of less altruistic ideas being explored. Does your head of IT security have trouble sleeping at night? With the rise of these new machines, I can see why he/she might become a little restless!

There are many companies who take the stealing of data very seriously and enforce a zero tolerance policy for such devices, choosing to ban them from secure areas within their organisation. 

Others have chosen to take a more relaxed approach. They have decided to allow people to use their own gadgets for work. There is a third option where the company may let users use business devices for personal use as well.

I am in favour of clear distance between business and personal use - never the twain should meet. This effectively means making sure business systems and processes cannot under any circumstances be accessed using personal devices. While some businesses may be less inclined to protect their data,  the risk to themselves may be small, but they could be putting their customers in danger.

Personal use also is more prone to the kind of social engineering that viruses and trojan horses exploit to infect your machines and/or steal your data. Mixing computer business with personal use is a very risky thing to do.

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