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The hits keep on coming

IT directors and other senior executives need to start thinking more like Francis Richard, a structured cabling specialist at Cerco Cable Inc. in Montreal and one of several industry experts quoted in...


September 1, 2007  


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IT directors and other senior executives need to start thinking more like Francis Richard, a structured cabling specialist at Cerco Cable Inc. in Montreal and one of several industry experts quoted in this issue’s cover story on network security.

With the convergence of such diverse applications as the Internet, HVAC, fire alarm and video surveillance systems all headed in the direction of Internet Protocol, he and others say the overall dynamics are about to change substantially.

Richard suggests that although the initial costs in equipment may be greater as more and more standards come on board, the newer IP-based are more interoperable, and that alone can lead to savings in manageability.

The role that IP and intelligent cabling will play in the enterprise (see p. 18) are just two of many advances that will need to be understood and recognized the next time a move to a new location occurs or an existing cabling and networking infrastructure is replaced.

Michael Murphy, vice president and general manager of Symantec (Canada) Corp., points out in the cover story, that where organizations sometimes struggle is in the area of implementation. Corporations, he says, understand the risks, but they are also trying to do with more with less.”

As if there is not enough to worry about, late last month, the Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm that focuses on information and privacy management practices in business and government, issued results of a new study that contained some frightening results.

The press release issued by the firm lead with the fact that on Aug. 7, Merrill Lynch reported the theft of a laptop computer from its New Jersey corporate office that happened to contain sensitive personal and financial information of 33,000 of its employees.

“Such breaches of confidential information have become routine news for one simple reason,” Ponemon said. “Though sparing no expense to guard the security of their networks, corporations often fail to protect data on devices that are disconnected from the network.”

According to the study, 73% of corporations experienced the loss or theft of a data-bearing asset in the last 24 months, yet those same organizations report limited efforts to manage this vulnerability: “Protecting data that is stored on devices outside the confines and control of the corporate network is a problem for which many companies simply do have a solution. Our research shows that, while most companies recognize the risk off-network data poses, few seem to have a grasp on how to manage the many challenges off-network data present to maintaining a strong data security program.”

Ironically, seven days later, Cisco Corp. released results of a global study conducted this spring by InsightExpress, which revealed “widespread plans to increase security spending by as much as 20% next year to protect expanding wireless networks and the growing number of mobile employees who access them.”

The report points out that many mobile employees appear oblivious to security concerns. Many admitted they did not encrypt data on their wireless devices or set passwords to prevent physical access to their information.

“The research really provides an opportunity for IT to reassess its relationship with increasingly mobile user bases and consider new ways to minimize spending,” said Ben Gibson, Cisco’s director or mobility solutions.

Specifically, he urged organizations to open up the communications channels in order that employees can be forewarned about the various threats.

It is something that every company should practice no matter if employees are tethered to a desktop PC in the office or able to access vital corporate information from afar.