Office security takes a summer holiday

Quick, plug in your cameras and play merry-hell with the network...

Quick, plug in your cameras and play merry-hell with the network...

With summer having finally arrived, UK workers are increasingly turning to their work computers to download and distribute holiday snaps from digital cameras, raising concerns about the impact this may have on network security.

Similarly, downloads of music and other media files from the internet increase during the summer months, as minds which would rather be out in the sunshine drift away from their work, according to research from Centennial.

And while practices such as downloading pictures may not pose a direct threat, Andy Burton, CEO of Centennial, warned that creating a culture in which data travels freely in and out of organisations on a multitude of devices may well create problems further down the line.

"Somebody who downloads their holiday photos at work may not be posing a threat to the company but you can't discriminate on the basis of whether somebody is generally a good egg. You have to have policies which take into account the threat such devices can pose," Burton told silicon.com.

Allowing staff to plug in any kind of portable storage, whether it's an iPod, camera, USB stick or external drive, creates a situation which could easily be abused, said Burton, arguing that data leaving the organisation poses a far greater threat to a company than data entering it.

"Companies must have policies in place to protect themselves against data theft and the risk of something nasty being brought onto the network, such as a Trojan or spyware," Burton said, adding that companies may also find themselves in legal trouble if copyrighted media such as MP3s are stored on their networks.

According to the survey, there is a substantial difference between the behaviour of men and women in the workplace: 50 per cent of women download personal files onto their work computers, while only 25 per cent of men do so.