Mobile Devices: IT Security Can't Support Them, Can't Lock Them Out

What’s scaring IT security professionals? Unsupported mobile devices and applications on the network, according to a recent Cisco survey of more than 500 information technology pros around the globe.

Cisco, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., said Thursday that it used findings gleaned from the InsightExpress-conducted poll to improve its Secure Borderless Network architecture with more robust tools for folding more mobile devices into an organization’s security framework.

Key findings in the survey, which was conducted in the United States, Germany, Japan, China and India, included the confirmation by more than half of respondents that their employees are using unsupported applications and by 41 percent that their employees are accessing the network with unsupported devices.

Social networking applications were a particular thorn in the side of IT professionals. Of those respondents who said employees were using unsupported applications, 68 percent pointed to social networking apps as an example.

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On the network device side, a full third of the respondents who said employees were using unsupported smartphones and the like further reported that they’d experienced a breach or data loss as a result.

But simply banning such practices doesn’t seem to be working, either. Respondents said employees are ’consistently working around information technology security policies to use unsupported devices and applications,’ according to Cisco.

What’s more, punishing network transgressors or physically locking out unsupported devices and applications can be counterproductive to a business. Some 71 percent of respondents agreed that ’overly strict security policies have a negative impact on hiring and retaining employees under age 30.’