Workers study: managers have more power than IT

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Remote workers believe managers have the power to control their out-of-office activity and not IT departments, new research shows.

The study, commissioned by Cisco this summer, surveyed the activities of over 1000 home workers, 1000 IT decision makers and spanned ten countries including the UK, US, France and Germany.

According to the research, in six of the ten countries - including the UK - more remote workers felt their line managers had the authority to control their online behaviour and not the IT department.

The report also found that 13 per cent of all remote employees believe no one should control their use of corporate devices. France had the highest figure of users with this view, at 38 per cent.

Furthermore, over half of IT workers surveyed felt their users didn't think IT had the right to know how company computers were used.

The research says that all home workers that participated in the study were non-IT professionals, and claims this suggests that managers in areas such as marketing, HR, and sales were perceived to have more power than IT in administering employee's online behaviour.

John Stewart, chief security officer at Cisco, said this perception is not a challenge but an opportunity for IT to establish itself as a trusted adviser on security.

He said: "IT understands that employees are aware of security issues but are frequently unaware their behaviour is risky.

"Education and awareness are key. While it's imperative that IT looks for proactive technology to protect their organisations from risks, marrying products with proactive communication and education is what ultimately produces a security-savvy corporate culture."

According to Jeff Platon, vice president of security solutions marketing at Cisco, these results contradict the responses of the same workers who took part in another study last month.

"In the first study, two-thirds of remote workers worldwide claimed they were aware of security concerns," he said. "However, many of those same workers admitted engaging in risky behaviour when using corporate devices. Their awareness and behaviour were contradictory."

The research found that this behaviour included hijacking the wireless networks of neighbours, opening suspicious e-mails, accessing corporate files with personal devices, and sharing work computers with non-employees.

Platon added: "The contradiction between remote workers' awareness, behaviour and their perception of IT provide enough motivation for CIOs and CSOs to re-establish their position as a trusted security adviser within their organisations.

"IT has an opportunity - and obligation - to evolve its image and take a leadership role in making the connection between security risks and workers'actions."
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