Remote workers present biggest security threat

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Remote and branch workers are judged to be the highest security risks by IT managers, but sales staff are considered the worst offenders in consuming network bandwidth for non-work related activities, according to recent research by network optimisation firm Blue Coat Systems..

The survey asked a range of network security and resource questions to both network managers and security managers to determine the biggest challenges facing corporate networks in the UK.

When asked which group out of sales, marketing, senior management and remote workers were most likely to consume network bandwidth on non-work related activities, the consensus of opinion placed sales staff at the top of the list, with 43 percent of network managers and 34 percent of security managers listing them as the key offenders, followed in second place by marketing managers.

Conversely, while remote workers were voted least likely to use bandwidth for non-business uses, they were seen as the main protagonists in introducing malware onto the corporate network, with 50 per cent of network managers and 48 per cent of security managers naming them as most likely to introduce malware.

The report also found that remote workers are also most likely to suffer from poor application performance, with 57 percent of security respondents and 44 percent of network managers claiming that this group comprised the most regular complainers about poor application delivery over the network.

"These findings show that IT managers need to rethink how they service their remote and branch office workers," said Nigel Hawthorn, vice president of Marketing at Blue Coat in EMEA.

"The survey shows that the remote office security and performance issue is not due to the users themselves downloading inappropriate content on non-work related activities. On the contrary, it reveals a need for organisations to more carefully consider the needs of remote and branch workers in deploying applications remotely or over the internet."

Furthermore, with more and more companies using hosted application services, outsourced data centres and accessing various systems from a variety of devices and locations, Hawthorn believes almost everyone is a remote worker to some degree, even when working in the office.

This trend only highlights the growing need for both network and security managers to work together closely in order to ensure that employees have the best access possible no matter where they are, without compromising security.

Hawthorn explained that in years gone by, connectivity, then security and availability were seen as the major issues around remote working, which has been solved with the prevalence of broadband, Wi-Fi and 3G services and secure network connections.

As more employees expect to be able to access a wide range of services no matter where they are, Hawthorn reckons performance will become the next major hurdle for network managers to overcome.
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