Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>

Gary Audin | May 01, 2015 |


IT Security Can Be So Inconvenient...

IT Security Can Be So Inconvenient... The onus is on IT to make sure security is as usable as possible while keeping danger at bay.

The onus is on IT to make sure security is as usable as possible while keeping danger at bay.

Balancing security and usability is not easy. IT security staff, when developing security implementations, can in many cases actually produce barriers -- barriers that end up compelling users to bypass security in the name of productivity and reduced frustration.

This, of course, flies in the face of security goals. The aim of IT security is to protect corporate information assets from insider and external threats. It is about preventing problems, and about discovering problems and implementing solutions. IT can select from a variety of security products, both hardware and software, deployed on premises or in the cloud. Internal problems can be negligence, poor policies, malicious behavior, and mistakes.

Security Resistance
I have encountered people who believe they follow security procedures. But some of these people avoid certain security policies because they cause slow or blocked access to information and websites. Some blur the line between internal security policies and procedures and their private lives, and end up crossing the boundary. They may do so with deliberation or just negligence. I know when I worked in classified DoD positions, security was very important while also being inconvenient.

Some internal employees and contractors set up their own wireless LAN access points. Others use their personal technology for business functions, without a formal BYOD policy. I have even discovered rogue users of cloud services. In one case, a CIO learned of rogue cloud use by reading about it in a press release the cloud service provider issued! In another situation, a nurse using Skype video sent patient information between a remote clinic and a hospital, against HIPAA rules.

portable In an information security trends study, CompTIA found that "companies are not fully addressing a critical component to IT security: IT security skill levels within IT departments and IT security education for the entire workforce." More than 55% of the companies participating in the study cited the primary cause of their security incidents as human error, while only 45% cited technology error (see my related post, Security Mistakes: Technology or Behavior?). The conclusion is that internal staff and contactors are primary security issues.

Keeping Workers Involved
IT, therefore, needs to monitor workers to ensure they are following security policies and procedures. Monitoring technology must continually look for illegal and rogue devices on the network, and capture information about improper behavior.

This is where training becomes important. Producing a return on investment for user security training is difficult, but the training investment is a must. And the training must be ongoing.

As a best practice, I suggest that IT send users a security terms and conditions notification once quarterly. This notice should entail a series of statements or questions the user must answer, and not just by checking an "I agree" box. The statements and questions need refreshing each quarter so that the user cannot just use the last version he or she has stored away for reuse. This quarterly reminder serves not only to re-educate, but also to reinforce the security policies and procedures. This makes pleading ignorance harder for the worker to do.

Security Costs
Of course, IT security comes with a cost -- even if most employees do not know the cost or consider the cost just part of doing business (see a related post, Cyber Crime Economics). The costs include:

  • Security staff
  • Hardware and software
  • Training
  • Monitoring for problematic behavior
  • Discovering illegal/rogue devices
  • End-user time spent supporting the security discovery and analysis
  • Enforcement
  • Investigation of real and imagined security breaches
  • Reduced or blocked productivity
  • Loss of revenue and profit
  • Legal actions and penalties

One major financial institution spends $250 million per year on security and still encounters unanticipated problems.

Hunting Down the Culprits
When a security issue surfaces, then the work to discover, analyze, repair, and prevent the problem or problems generates considerable effort for the IT, security, and user staffs. These three No Jitter posts can help to learn what needs to be done during a security investigation:

Not only will the investigation affect several budgets, but also potentially delay ongoing projects.

A security incident is an embarrassment for C-level executives on down, as well as stockholders and customers. Regaining a good reputation may take years, and will not come for free. The marketing department will have to expend effort to spin the problem to the satisfaction of the customers. Sometimes the C-level executives are so concerned that they intrude on the investigation and can cause more problems. Finding the problems and implementing solutions quickly can reduce or even stop C-level intrusion.

Formulating a Plan & Execution
The most critical piece of any plan is validation. Do not assume that your approach is best. The approach should be the result of a group effort involving technical IT and security staff, plus non-technical marketing, sales, financial, and production personnel. Sometimes the non-technical participants can have insights that elude the technical staff. Plus, including non-technical departments makes for an easier time of getting user buy-in compared to when IT dictates a solution.

Consider these factors in your planning:

  • Look for high-value assets most in need of protection from legal, compliance, and business perspectives.
  • Understand what requirements the business needs to satisfy to be successful. Security cannot impose limits on them.
  • Design a security strategy that meets the business goals while implementing a reasonable level of security.
  • Have users help validate the solutions, then fine-tune the resulting design.
  • Remember, you are never done. New security problems will surface while old ones may re-emerge. Technology continues to improve. Even the best design is periodically revisited.

In its study, CompTIA also discovered that companies want to improve their security skill deficiencies. The deficiencies cited include cloud security (cited by 58% of respondents), mobile security (48%), data loss prevention (46%), and risk analysis (35%).

Security without business is meaningless. Business without security is a problem waiting to explode.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.