Technology outstrips security yet again

As many as one quarter of the computing devices issued to corporate workers in the last year are already stolen or lost, new Cisco survey says.

Cisco on Tuesday released a survey on corporate data security –- or lack thereof -- that should give us all chills.

Yes, there are professional gangs of cyberthieves crafting malicious code that can target and steal bank passwords and other sensitive corporate data online. But that’s not the main problem here – it’s corporate carelessness, sometimes stupidity, combined with mobile devices whose capabilities are racing ahead of where corporate IT people are comfortable letting their company’s workers go.

Three out of five workers don’t think they need to be in the office anymore to be productive, according to Cisco. They feel so strongly about being mobile that they’d sacrifice salary for flexibility, even if it means putting in longer hours. This is especially true in India, China, Brazil and Spain.

Two-thirds of workers expect IT to let them use any device they want –- whether it’s personal or corporate –- to access the company network, regardless of where they are.

Nearly half of the IT people surveyed said they’re not ready to allow this – security is their biggest concern, followed by their constrained budgets and the limited skills of their staff – but workers want what they want, and they tend to see IT as the obstacle to getting it.

IT departments have good reasons to be concerned:

  • 1 in 5 workers said they’ve noticed strangers looking at their computer screens in public -– and another 1 in 5 said they don’t bother to check who’s looking at their screens.
  • About 1 in 5 workers have left their computing devices unattended in public.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 workers lend their devices to people they don't work with -- and then don’t supervise them.
  • As for the IT people, 1 in 4 said a quarter of the devices they’ve issued to employees in the last 12 months are already either stolen or lost.

This survey was actually two surveys –- one of employees, the other of IT professionals, 2600 people in all -– in 13 countries: the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan and Australia. Cisco sponsored the survey, but it was conducted by a third party,

Here’s a parting remark from Dave Evans, the chief technologist (and futurist) of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group: "Work is not a place anymore. It’s a lifestyle…"

This post was originally published on