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IT managers fear remote working data leaks

Businesses are concerned over potential security issues arising from remote working and guest network access, according to report.

Technology bosses, under pressure to make corporate networks more open, fear data leaks could result, according to a report.

Research from AEP said that 91 per cent of UK and North American IT executives think that factors such as remote working and outsourcing create a greater risk of sensitive data being accessed by prying eyes.

They also believed that wider network accessibility would also mean that there would be much wider risk from malicious content, with 89 per cent fearing a greater threat from malware. Similarly, 85 per cent felt there was more likelihood of hacking.

"On the one hand, IT managers are rightly under pressure to open the network door to partners, suppliers and customers, to improve efficiency, and enhance business processes," said Reginald Best, chief operating officer of AEP networks.

"On the flip-side, they're sweating over how to prevent unauthorised access, protect company information and deflect malicious attacks."

Although the vast majority of IT execs knew the risks, they also realised more open networks were inevitable, with 94 per cent either already or planning to allow access to remote workers.

Over half of them permit or plan to permit access to contract staff or external IT support, but interestingly for some this openness also spreads to customers and guests.

To deal with the security issues, IT departments are spending more on new technology. The report revealed that 48 per cent of execs would stretch their security budgets to secure remote access in the next year.

Other solutions mentioned were network access control (41 per cent), identity-based network security solutions (37 per cent) and encryption (35 per cent).

Best said that there were many questions that IT needed to ask itself about how to safeguard more open networks: "What systems should specific types of remote workers be allowed to access? What should you do about visitors who don't have the required antivirus software on their machines but need to work on your network?"

"And what about providing a safe access to users who want to log in from third party locations such as internet cafes? How does the organisation track and audit access? These are the types of issues for which organisations need to develop policies," Best added.

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