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Rogue Cloud, Mobile Initiatives Must Be Addressed Properly

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Democratization of Cloud Computing and Mobility Introduces New Business Challenges and Opportunities

The rapid transformation of the business technological environment has given employees around the world more confidence in their ability to identify, procure and deploy their own solutions in and outside of the workplace. This has led to the emergence of bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile initiatives that have changed enterprise communications, as well as the proliferation of rogue clouds, which has made supporting a remote workforce an attainable goal for organizations of all sizes.

In general, the use of personal technologies in the workplace offers new opportunities to improve operations, reduce costs and boost employee satisfaction. At the same time, however, unmonitored growth of these initiatives will inevitably introduce security challenges. This is because workers - despite their own beliefs - are not nearly as skilled at safeguarding sensitive information and resources as their organization's trained IT departments. Still, this hasn't prevented individuals from pursuing shadow IT endeavors.

A recent Fortinet study of 3,200 employees aged between 21 and 32 revealed that these individuals are much more inclined to break company-wide policies for the sake of using personal technologies. As for BYOD, 51 percent of respondents said they would go against any rules that ban the use of personal smartphones, tablets and other devices in the workplace.

"This year's research reveals the issues faced by organizations when attempting to enforce policies around BYOD, cloud application usage and soon the adoption of new connected technologies. The study highlights the greater challenge IT managers face when it comes to knowing where corporate data resides and how it is being accessed," said John Maddison, vice president of marketing for Fortinet.

In many cases, individuals will avoid the use of traditional business phone systems for the sake of utilizing personally owned smartphones - devices that individuals are more familiar with due to the constant usage of the platforms in their lives beyond the office. Yet the cloud is often seen as an even more disruptive trend, largely because individuals are witnessing their companies grow more fond of the technology and, as a result, they become more comfortable utilizing the technology for personal reasons.

Combating The Rogue Cloud

Individuals throughout the workplace, including employees and executives, are quickly gaining awareness of the cloud and all of its prospective potential. In many cases, the use of the cloud in the office was brought about by the consumerization of IT phenomenon, as many decision-makers claimed their company cloud projects were driven - or at least encouraged - by personal cloud usage.

Incidentally, Fortinet found that 89 percent of employees have at least one personal cloud storage service account and 70 percent of these individuals have utilized those solutions for work-related tasks. A lot of the time, these environments house highly sensitive information, which can lead to significant problems if exposed.

At the same time, individuals are more confident in the cloud's inherent security capabilities, as 32 percent fully trust their cloud environments to host confidential assets. In fact, 36 percent of employees are so confident in the cloud that they would utterly disregard company-wide rules that prevented the use of personal cloud solutions for corporate tasks.

"It's worrying to see policy contravention so high and so sharply on the rise, as well as the high instances of Generation Y users being victims of cybercrime.On the positive side, however, 88 percent of the respondents accept that they have an obligation to understand the security risks posed by using their own devices. Educating employees on the threat landscape and its possible impact is another key aspect for ensuring an organization's IT security," Maddison said.

Raising risk awareness in the workplace is critical to ensuring cloud projects avoid unnecessary complications. Still, companies may not want to completely destroy the idea of launching rogue clouds, according to an InfoWorld report by IT expert David Linthicum. Linthicum stated that analyzing personal cloud usage in the workplace, even when those instances are not supported by the IT department, can give decision-makers greater insight into what employees want. If individuals are utilizing cloud collaboration tools, for example, executives should consider implementing a hosted PBX solution that meets the needs of both workers and decision-makers.

Additionally, Linthicum asserted that shadow IT projects can get employees excited about using new technologies, which is always important in today's constantly evolving business world. By having the entire workplace share positive enthusiasm about the cloud, organizations may be able to embrace the hosted services, as well as other tools, without disrupting existing operations.

As the democratization of IT continues as new technologies emerge and evolve, decision-makers need to consider jumping on board, not necessarily severing all connections. While shadow IT initiatives can introduce risk, the programs can also invite new, beneficial opportunities if they are tackled correctly.