Thursday, October 2, 2008

The security nightmare

Cisco commissioned a study that confirms the worst fears of security professionals the world over. The weakest part of the fortifications that protect corporate assets has nothing to do with encryption, firewalls, authentication, retinal scanners or anti-virus software. It's all about the users.

Specifically, end-user attitudes towards security is the most vulnerable part of the security spectrum. And remote users are seen as the least vigilant when it comes to protecting the integrity of the corporate infrastructure.

This missing part of the study, though, is the over-the-road user. While remote users may have a more relaxed perspective, the road warrior is the most vulnerable access point. They use public networks, and a sophisticated hacker can easily blend in at Starbuck's or Panera Bread. Their machines are out in open space, instead of behind locked doors and 24-hour security. And frequently, they have a local copy of sensitive data so that they can work off-line.

For Type-A personality salesmen and senior executives, this attitude change may require a generation to change. These high-achievers grew with a sense of invincibility (a job requirement for top-performers) and they place a significant premium on convenience (recognizing the value of their time). Will it take a high-profile data theft to begin to change the people think? If one occurs, what company would intentionally go public with such a story?

Cisco Study: A need for greater diligence

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