Unsanctioned employee app use may expose confidential data

Unsanctioned employee app use may expose confidential data

Published: 3/5/2013 6:52:03 PM

Smartphones and tablets are increasingly blurring the line between home and the office, and not just in the sense that employees can now play Angry Birds at either destination. With the proliferation of mobile applications, workers have more solutions than ever for handling assignments with tools of their own choosing. Yet as application usage in the workplace expands, employees may be letting corporate information leak into unsafe services, a problem that can be addressed by adopting sanctioned cloud solutions for business.

A recent New York Times article profiled the challenges facing employers trying to control sensitive data in the face of rogue application use. The publication highlighted internal surveys at companies such as Netflix and Cisco Systems, which each found that workers were using several hundred apps on corporate networks. Skyhigh Networks, a cloud risk management company, told the Times that it has counted more than 1,200 services in use on corporate networks over personal devices.

The result of causal application use is that documents marked as confidential from most major companies are accessible via a simple Google search, while some organizations have had customer and employee records exposed, the Times reported.

Embracing software solutions in the cloud
According to John Engates, CTO of infrastructure-as-a-service provider Rackspace, the way for IT departments to avoid these types of risks is to embrace cloud solutions by providing sanctioned alternatives. If users can access cloud accounting software provided by their own IT department, for instance, they will be less likely to seek out a comparable, but potentially less reputable, service on their own, he told Forbes.

As a result, the role of IT is changing from being a department that builds technology from the ground up to one that helps craft holistic solutions, Engates told Forbes. This model allows IT to handle more complex or customized tasks, while enabling users to quickly access new services as needed.

"It's very rare to meet a CIO who builds everything in-house," Engates said. "They're really pulling together capabilities from a lot of different sources. IT is now in the position of being the guide or the shepherd to help the internal users, the business units figure out what clouds to use, and how they should use them, and how they should integrate them with other applications within the enterprise, and which ones are high risk or low risk."

Companies can adopt cloud-based tools such as cloud CRM software, cloud ERP software and more instead of building these systems themselves. By offering approved solutions for everything from tracking customer data to document storage, IT departments can minimize the amount of information that leaves the company through unsanctioned applications.

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