5 questions to ask about tablet security
Employees are dying to use them. But are tablets too risky for the enterprise? Experts ponder some of the larger questions about tablet security.
By Joan Goodchild , Senior Editor
June 06, 2011 — CSO —
A poll conducted late in 2010 by ChangeWave Research found the number of organizations giving employees tablets for work would double in the coming twelve months. The research found 14 percent of businesses polled expected to buy tablets for employees in the first quarter of 2011, up from 7 percent of companies who supplied staff with tablets in the last quarter of 2010.
But while most organizations are not rushing to adopt tablets in their IT department, many end-user employees are in a hurry to start using them — on their own — with or without company support.
That has security managers scratching their heads as to whether tablets change their risk profile. The answer will differ from company to company, but here are five questions to ask as you consider your tablet policy.
Can we/should we support tablets?
This is a question many organizations have been struggling with for a few years when it comes to the plethora of mobile devices that users want to now bring to work. Tablets up the ante, said Denise Lund, a senior analyst with Yankee Group's Enterprise Research team.
"The most over-arching challenge enterprises have is whether to embrace the consumerization that spills into allowing all of the tablets into an organization."
Data compiled by Yankee Group finds about one-fifth of companies still will not tolerate any consumer applications or devices in the organization. But another 17 percent are both allowing and supporting what Lund called "non-harmful consumer applications and devices" and have deployed managed-mobility solutions to do it securely. However, among this set, there's a strong sentiment that security is the top technological obstacle to supporting mobile workers.
"48 percent of enterprises say security is one of the top two obstacles in supporting their mobile workers," she said. "That ranks above expense management; it's almost two-times the percent of people who say expense management is their top obstacle. That's pretty significant, I would say, because we know expense management is a very big priority."
However, the largest percentage of organizations included in the data are allowing consumer devices, but not supporting them, which poses an even bigger risk, said Lund.
"About 60 percent that are somewhere in the middle," she explained. "They don't encourage people to bring their devices or use their own applications at work, but they don't actively monitor it and that's where you expect to get some problems."
What are the risks posed by tablets and other consumer-oriented mobile devices?
Whether you are allowing and supporting consumer devices, like tablets, or allowing them and then burying your head in the sand about how they are being used, there are obviously several risks to consider. But is there anything about tablets that make them any more risky than the average laptop?