Look Out: BYOD means SYSD

Bring Your Own Device, and Scatter Your Sensitive Data.

Your data is moving from your protected confines into the cloud, whether you know it or not, whether you want it to or not, and very likely with little regard for regulatory requirements. You can either deny it or deal with it.

Symantec’s recent State of Information Report includes their Digital Information Index. Its title is vague, but you will want to read it if you are concerned about controlling your sensitive information.

The report describes the increasing information sprawl, the trend toward data being stored outside the firewall. Admit it — this has to happen. It is no longer feasible for most organizations to keep all of the data locked behind firewalls. Smartphones and other portable devices increase employee productivity by allowing them to access, process and create information from nearly anywhere. If you prevent remote access, you also prevent the associated increases in productivity.

When you combine mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops with cloud storage providers like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, SkyDrive and Amazon S3, 46% of business information world-wide is stored outside the organizational firewall, and half of information access happens outside the firewall. Smaller businesses store evenn larger percentages of their data outside the firewall. The 46% figure is for large enterprises, small to medium businesses store 53% of their data outside.

Some countries are behind the trend, like the U.S. with just 32% of business information stored outside so far, but of course many are ahead of the average, like India with 83% of business information stored outside and China, Indonesia and Singapore at 60%.

It’s not like there is no storage space inside — organizations are only using about 30% of their storage capacity inside the firewall and even less of their capacity outside.

Meanwhile, more than one third of organizations experienced lost or stolen mobile devices leading to the exposure of confidential data.

Also, the more you spread something around, the harder it is to find. A significant fraction of this remotely stored information is poorly organized or otherwise difficult to access.

What can you do?

Focus on securing the increasingly mobile information. It’s not necessarily possible to secure the storage device and it is becoming increasingly incomplete to secure the data center.

Realize that not all of your information is equally sensitive. Distinguish levels of sensitivity and apply your limited efforts proportionally.

It is possible to protect information stored in the cloud, Learning Tree’s Cloud Security Essentials course shows you some methods.

Bob Cromwell

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