Information security policies and corresponding controls are often unrealistic. They don’t recognize how employees need to interact with computer systems and applications to get work done. The result is a set of safeguards that provide a false sense of security.
This problem will continue to grow due to consumerization of IT: the notion that employees increasingly employ powerful personal devices and services for work. This trend makes it easier for the employees to engage in practices that make their life and work more convenient while introducing security risks to their employer.
Corporate IT security departments need to recognize that employees:
- Use personal mobile devices and computers to interact with corporate data assets.
- Take advantage of file replication services, such as Dropbox, to make access to corporate data more convenient.
- Employ the same password for most corporate systems and, probably, personal on-line services.
- Write down passwords, PINs and other security codes on paper, in text files and email messages.
- Click on links and view attachments they receive through email and on-line social networks.
- Disable security software if they believe it slows them down.
- Don’t read security policies or, if they read them, don’t remember what was in them.
These are inconvenient truths that, if acknowledged by organizations as being common, can be incorporated into enterprise risk management discussions. Doing this will have strong implications for how IT security technologies and practices are configured and deployed.