A radical shift in security needs

During the last 40 years we’ve seen a small number of significant, user-driven shifts in the computing landscape, which change the way businesses and IT departments operate. The move from mainframes and linked terminals towards desktop PCs is a prime example. Currently, we’re in the middle of another fundamental shift.

The proliferation of mobile devices in business environments has created an unstoppable wave of change. Such changes in technology have always created increased threats, alongside the opportunities. The boundaries between traditional voice and data, and the boundaries between personal and corporate property are rapidly blurring.

The consequence of this will be a fundamental shift in working practises, but also a major shift in risk profile for organisations.

As if this wasn’t enough, other changes impacting the environment are escalating. These include private and public cloud connections, the new high speed wireless standards, multiple social networking platforms, VDI and last, but certainly not least, the continued growth of remote working.

All of these elements throw up their own security issues which need addressing. Take them all together, alongside ever increasing amounts of data and the growing need for compliance, then the rapidly changing security landscape becomes much more complicated and demanding.

One of the strongest trends in this major shift is undoubtedly the move towards wireless. Employees are now wedded to their smartphones and tablets, and want to use them at work, with the same level of performance they get at home.

Suppliers are already providing consumers with high performance devices, designed to the new 802.11ac wireless standard, which is due to be ratified later in 2013. These devices are providing up to 1Gbps throughput. This contrasts with the wireless experience in the office, which can be patchy, slow and unreliable. This situation will be further exacerbated by the growth of 4G.

Just as the pressure from employees for laptops forced a change, so the demand for efficient wireless will put pressure on companies to upgrade their wireless and force a change from predominantly fixed networks, towards predominantly wireless networks, shifting the focus for security.

Today’s AP-based wireless networks are expensive and difficult to grow and secure. The move in wireless is likely to be towards array-based solutions, from suppliers such as Xirrus, which provide wireless networks with a high level of security, and the ability to expand wireless use without major infrastructure change.

Amazingly, authentication and encryption are still very much underused today and these are key security solutions going forward into this more complex security environment. Also key, are solutions which can centrally manage the security of our increasingly diverse network infrastructures.

Suppliers such as VASCO and SafeNet offer strong authentication products. Suppliers such as Becrypt, Kaspersky and Check Point offer centrally managed security solutions which encompass endpoint security, secure remote working and enterprise security, with encryption, providing protection for desktops, laptops, tablets, USB sticks, mobile devices and removable media devices.

Other useful security solutions in this changing environment include mobile phone security, from suppliers such as Kaspersky Lab, solutions for encrypting and authenticating tablets from companies like Becrypt, and mobile device management solutions, again from suppliers such as Kaspersky Lab.

The good news is that, in previous major shifts in the computing environment, security was an afterthought. However, today the signs are that security is much more at the forefront of people’s thinking and will be an important consideration as we head into the rapidly changing computing environment of the next few years.

Author: Ian Kilpatrick, chairman Wick Hill Group.

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