October 12, 2013 /
Data Leakage: Rogue IT problems and solutions
Is rogue IT threatening to cause a major breach?
Is sensitive data finding its way onto home networks? Is confidential data leaking onto unprotected mobile devices? Are unauthorized cloud services being used as a convenient and cheap way to store data? Is rogue IT threatening to cause a major breach? Is your government or business suffering because employees are deliberately violating cybersecurity policies?
According to a recent survey from uSamp, sponsored by harmon.ie:
· Mobile ‘rogue IT’ costing US organizations almost $2B.
· Over 40% of workers ignore corporate document policies by using unsanctioned cloud services to get work done;
· 1 in 2 experience tangible damage as a result.
· 41% of workers used an unsanctioned cloud service for document storage/sync within the last 6 months, despite the fact that 87% of these workers knew their company had a policies forbidding such practices.
In fact, according to the survey, technology leaders worry more about rogue IT issues than malware or viruses or overseas cyberattacks hitting their networks.
Historical perspective from around the world
Lest you think that these numbers are totally new or completely different, a Cisco survey performed back in 2008 yielded similar concerns about data leakage. Despite the fact that cloud computing and smartphones were just emerging five years ago, employee misuse of sensitive data was already widespread.
(Side note: in most cases, staff ignoring or violating policies is not with malicious intent, but rather indicates a desire to take short cuts or utilize tools that allow them to get their work done faster.)
Some of the findings from the 2008 Cisco report included:
· 63 percent of employees admit to using a work computer for personal use every day, and 83 percent admit to using a work computer for personal use at least sometimes.
· 70 percent of IT professionals believe the use of unauthorized programs resulted in as many as half of their companies' data loss incidents. This belief was most common in the United States (74 percent), Brazil (75 percent), and India (79 percent).
· 46 percent of employees admitted to transferring files between work and personal computers when working from home.
· 13 percent of those who work from home admit that they cannot connect to their corporate networks, so they send business email to customers, partners, and co-workers via their personal email.
Let’s be clear – I am not talking about implementing a secure Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program with Mobile Device Management (MDM). Neither am I condemning secure cloud offerings or hybrid or personal cloud services that offer our customers new and exciting capabilities.
These surveys and articles are pointing out deliberate attempts to violate corporate or government policies and go around or not use such programs.
What’s to be done?
So what can be done to help? Here are a few possible solutions which are offered from this Forbes article on the same subject:
Marty Hodgett, CIO of Symantec suggests that companies set up a sandbox environment for new mobile technologies so that IT can evaluate them according to employee requirements. If the requirements and mobile device pass the evaluation, then allow them to be used in the workplace.
Bob Egan of Forbes warns IT departments to, “Treat mobile devices and resident applications as hostile – secure the data when at rest and in transit.” Egan also recognizes that employees, “feel a lot of anxiety to do things faster and better because of mobile. Without the mobile access to the right tools, employees feel relegated to second class company citizens.”
Guru Michael Krigsman of the Wall Street Journal and ZDNet suggests, “IT must create policies that balance security with flexibility. The right policies encourage workers to use devices and software that adhere to security standards while providing the right level of flexibility to the employee. Balanced approaches are the solution to increasing security awareness and ensuring the buy-in from employees.
The Forbes article also offers excellent advice from several other industry experts.
Final Thoughts and Upcoming NASCIO Conference Session
Combatting what many technology leaders call “rogue IT” is difficult. The term itself can even be misleading, because one person’s rogue IT is some customer’s easy to use technology solution. Indeed, the very point of many new technology offerings is to streamline processes and enable new end-user tasks that were difficult to perform before. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media tools are great examples of helpful new online services that people like.
The challenge is to stop the data leakage in the process, which means we must offer workable solutions that our customers want to use. Our service offerings must be easy enough to use that our clients will not need to “go rogue.”
For one practical example of potential solutions: I will be moderating a breakout session on cloud computing at the NASCIO 2013 Annual Conference this week in Philadelphia called:
The Working Cloud – Overcoming Obstacles. This session will cover examples and cases where Cloud has been deployed and is operating successfully. There will be a review of the key obstacles (contracting, data, security, backup/recovery, cultural change) to using Cloud in the states with a panel discussion of how Cloud has been made to work and how obstacles have been overcome. The first part will cover some facts around the growth and use of Cloud, while the panel discussion will discuss specific examples of implementations and use.
The panelists will be:
- Steve Nichols, Chief Technology Officer, State of Georgia
- Elayne Starkey, Chief Security Officer, State of Delaware
- Karen Robinson, Chief Information Officer, State of Texas
- Ed Valencia, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Technology Officer, State of Minnesota
Please plan to join us on Monday, if you'll be at the NASCIO conference. We will be discussing this data leakage topic and more.
Most important, take another look at your overall approach to stop data leakage. The adoption of your IT offerings in the cloud and with mobile devices will say a lot about your probablity of success.