According to details of a survey on the threats of consumerization to the enterprise from McAfee, sent to Infosecurity via email, a full 62% of respondents cited social networking as a significant threat to information security in their organization – making it the No. 1 concern among security professionals surveyed.
The consumerization of IT has made security far more difficult to manage, McAfee said, exemplified by the introduction of personal devices, the growth of social networking and the explosion of employee-created and managed data.
And, in fact, social networking is simply the tip of the iceberg. The growth of emails and other unstructured data came a close second in terms of concern in the survey, with 59% acknowledging it as a serious risk. In addition, mobile security continues to keep IT personnel up at night.
When it came to wireless, the single biggest problem remains not the technology, but the practices and behaviors of users, with employees' failure to follow data-retention policies (59%) and lost or stolen devices (58%) topping the list of concerns.
And, IT professionals harbor deep concerns about the impact of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) on security and threat management. Forty-six percent of respondents thought personally owned consumer devices represent a significant threat, compared with only 27% who thought the same of consumer devices issued by the business.
This suggests it would be more likely that business-issued devices would be “scrubbed” more thoroughly for security vulnerabilities than personal devices, McAfee noted, but that is not being borne out. Fewer than one in five respondents (19%) said their organizations had a comprehensive BYOD policy for users’ personal mobile devices, and more than half of those whose organizations had such a policy felt it increased security complexity significantly or moderately.
Meanwhile, the research investigated why IT executives felt cloud computing made their organization more susceptible to security breaches and data loss. A full 60% of respondents felt that cloud computing’s growing prominence and market visibility made cloud-based applications more inviting as threat targets for cybercriminals. On a related note, 49% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that supporting a mix of physical and virtual machines makes infrastructure security far more difficult than it had been with physical-only infrastructure.
“It’s clear that security professionals are dealing with an increasingly complex threat landscape,” commented Raj Samani, EMEA CTO at McAfee. “With employees wanting the same experience in the office as they have at home, it’s no surprise that social networking emerges as a serious concern for the IT department. As the consumerization of IT continues to extend its reach into the workplace, it’s crucial for IT to take control and set manageable policies for employees to follow.”