IT managers 'concerned' about consumerisation

British IT managers are more worried than their European counterparts about the security and network risks of employees bringing their own devices into the workplace, according to a Fortinet survey

British IT managers are increasingly worried about employees bringing their own iPads and other consumer devices into work, seeing it as a risk to networks and security, according to a survey.

In a Fortinet poll of IT managers released on Monday, 74 percent of UK-based respondents said the growth of user-led devices in their business — also known as the 'consumerisation' of IT — is a cause for concern. That contrasts with 57 percent in a survey of managers in Europe, which did not cover the UK.

In addition, 84 percent of British IT managers said their companies' security strategies need to be more comprehensive, to be able to cover the broad spread of devices being used by employees.

At Fortinet, just as in a rising number of offices, people are not carrying separate mobile devices for work and personal use, according to Luca Simonelli, an EMEA vice president at the security company.

"We all use one device. The problem is when we are in the company, we are relatively secure from the network point of view, but when we are in the streets, we are not at all," Simonelli told ZDNet UK. "My infections can be spread within the company."

In the UK, 47 percent of IT managers were worried about securing endpoints, such as desktops, terminals, mobile phones and tablets, according to Fortinet. For Europe, the figure was 25 percent.

To deal with this risk, some businesses open up their networks only to corporate mobile devices with security policies in place. Despite the difference in their levels of concern, 40 percent of IT managers in both the UK and Europe took this approach.

Bring your own device

Joe Baguley, the chief cloud technologist at VMware, believes that businesses should adapt to the wave of 'bring your own' devices rather than trying to resist it.

"Fighting the adoption of consumer devices by your users is a bit Canute-like," Baguley told ZDNet UK. "It's better to embrace it and see how you can make the most of it.

The ultimate goal is maybe to get to the point where you assume that every device is 'insecure' and manage to that.

– Joe Baguley, VMware

"We need to start the move towards not thinking about securing devices but instead securing data and the delivery of data — the ultimate goal is maybe to get to the point where you assume that every device is 'insecure' and manage to that," he added.

One such strategy is to add security into consumer smartphones via virtualisation, creating secure partitioned corporate and personal zones, Baguley argued. Both Open Kernel Labs and VMware are working on projects related to this.

"The 'street' is now accelerating technology and service delivery in orders of magnitude faster than IT departments in terms of what it can deliver to the consumer, and that is a challenge and an opportunity for our industry that is driving some fantastically exciting innovation," Baguley said.

For example, IBM believes employees now expect their company to deliver enterprise IT to them with the same convenience and accessibility as they consume services on personal devices. In addition, SAP and other companies are beginning to develop applications that take into account the consumerisation of IT.

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