Trendlines: New, Hot, Unexpected

In this issue: The impact a possible recession would have on VC funding; The battle between social networking sites; Security risks associated with remote workers; IT leaders continue to court Wall Street; and By The Numbers: New rules and benchmarks for virtualization management.

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Remote Workers Pose Rising Security Threat

As the world's mobile workforce increases, so does the threat such remote workers represent to their organizations and IT departments, due largely to a lack of related security training and awareness, according to a recent study.

Concern about the theft of sensitive company information is on the rise in most firms after such high-profile incidents as the Department of Veterans Affairs laptop theft and the huge TJX breach. Not surprisingly, 60 percent of organizations that participated in the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) study said security concerns related to the use of mobile devices like smartphones and PDAs have increased over the past year.

However, most organizations aren't responding to the threat by increasing training. Though nearly 80 percent of respondent organizations said they allow their mobile workers remote access to data on corporate networks, less than one-third have implemented security awareness training for those staffers. Furthermore, only 10 percent plan to offer new security training related to the use of PDAs, smartphones, laptops or other mobile devices, even though those that have implemented such security training say they have encountered a smaller number of security breaches than in the past.

Smart CIOs educate their staffs on how to prevent known security threats before they happen, as well as how to react to data thefts or other security breaches after the fact, according to the study.

"Organizations that do not train their mobile workers in security fundamentals are doing themselves a great disservice," says John Venator, CompTIA president and chief executive officer. "Nearly 90 percent of organizations that have implemented awareness training for remote and mobile workers believe that the number of security breaches they've encountered has been reduced."

    Additional noteworthy findings include:

  • Security issues related to wireless networks have increased somewhat or significantly, according to 55 percent of respondents.
  • 58 percent of respondent organizations don't currently offer security training related to the use of handheld PCs or laptops for data access and transfer to remote workers, nor do they have any immediate plans to do so.
  • Organizations that don't currently offer security training for mobile workers cite the fact that there is no top management report or the training is not yet a business or departmental priority.

Market research firm TNS Prognostics was commissioned by CompTIA to conduct the fifth installment of the "Trends in Information Security: Analysis of IT Security and the Workforce" survey. Data was collected from more than 1,000 IT professionals during February 2007. The study also includes findings from 3,600 surveys conducted since 2002.

-Al Sacco

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