The Security Risks of Web 2.0 and WirelessBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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My early experiences as a reporter involved a typewriter. The very concept seems so remote it’s hard to believe at one time a small mistake would lead to unscrewing the cap off the White-Out or crumpling barely used sheets of paper.
In a corner of my memory, I can still smell the White-Out and the typewriter ink. Another corner is stacked with trips to the library to look up the card index, sift through a reverse directory or use a microfiche machine.
"Microfiche." Would today’s text-message-addicted teenager even know what that is? NITL! (For the uninitiated, that’s "not in this lifetime.")
Now all I need is a laptop with a reliable Internet connection to replace all those "back-in-the-day" tools.
And I wouldn’t trade the laptop for anything. Appreciating the romance of days gone by is one thing, but it’s hard to beat the convenience and productivity afforded by the Internet and mobile computing.
Of course, I could do without the worry of whether someone is trying to hack into my wireless network or if a file that drops into my inbox is contaminated. Or the tracks I leave behind as I jump from web site to web site for shopping, entertainment or searching for information for my work.
As such, I am no different from you. Most likely you, too, worry about these side effects of modern-day conveniences.
And if you happen to be an IT manager trying to keep up with all the possible ways that information can leak out of your network or malware and viruses can sneak in, you may well be on the road to incurable insomnia.
The proliferation of handheld devices and notebook computers connected to desktops is a big contributor to the sleeplessness. More than 50 percent of respondents in a recent survey of 2,000 individuals by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) said handheld devices have increased security threats.
Seventy-one percent of respondents said their organizations allow access to data in their networks by mobile and remote employees but indicated that security awareness training focused on mobile computing is not a priority for most. Only 39 percent of survey participants said their organizations have implemented security awareness training and education, while 19 percent said they intend to do so this year.
Clearly, there is a lot of exposure out there.
And while IT managers can be excused for the difficulty of keeping up with all the threats and technology advances, businesses have the option of retaining a solution provider with a security practice to help them secure their networks and data.
Wireless devices, after all, are only part of the concern. Businesses these days must contend with applications that have ongoing contact with the World Wide Web, be it to retrieve or send information.
Web 2.0 applications, such as instant messaging, Google Spreadsheets and Google Maps, deliver quantifiable benefits to cash-strapped businesses that, through those applications, gain access to technology that would otherwise be out of reach. But no good deed goes unpunished, so businesses must also be aware of and protect themselves against the accompanying risks.
It all starts with awareness. According to the CompTIA survey, 92 percent of the respondents whose organizations trained remote and mobile employees on security said the number of major security breaches has been reduced.
To the channel falls the job of helping all the organizations that remain behind the times in security. While we’re no longer talking about a migration from typewriters and microfiche, there’s still plenty to do to take full advantage of today’s technology.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWeek Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org.