Enterprise IT professionals have been urged to "act immediately to put effective security practices into place" in order to protect their companies' reputation and maintain a competitive edge.
New research, by networking giant Cisco, has concluded that major forces are changing the enterprise security landscape. The 'Cisco 2010 Midyear Security Report' states that: "Social networking, virtualization, cloud computing and a heavy reliance on mobile devices continue to have a dramatic impact on the ability of information technology departments to maintain effective network security".
The research has found that social networks remain a playground for cybercriminals, with an increasing number of attacks.
"New threats are now emerging from a more dangerous criminal element: terrorists," the Cisco report states. "Indeed, the US Government is concerned enough that they have awarded grants to examine how social networks and other technologies can be used to organize, coordinate, and incite potential attacks.
Other notable findings from the research include:
- Despite recent disruptions to criminal spam operations, in 2010 the worldwide volume of spam is expected to grow by as much as 30 percent over 2009 levels;
- The United States is once again the country where the largest amount of spam originates, pushing Brazil to third place. India currently ranks second, and Russia and South Korea round out the top five;
- Fifty per cent of end users admitted that they ignore company policies prohibiting the use of social media tools at least once a week, and 27 per cent said they change the settings on corporate devices to access prohibited applications.
Cisco vice president and chief security officer, John N. Stewart, said that technological innovations are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, play, share information and communicate with each other.
"Because consumers are typically the early adopters, enterprises often struggle to adapt existing polices to address their employees' preferred use of technology," Stewart said.
"With a number of tectonic forces converging in the marketplace, now is the time for enterprises to transform their IT model to accommodate the emerging borderless network and increasing security challenges."
What to do?
Cisco recommends that, to help manage these converging trends, enterprises should:
- Enforce granular per-user policies for access to applications and data on virtualized systems;
- Set strict limits for access to business data;
- Create a formal corporate policy for mobility;
- Invest in tools to manage and monitor cloud activities, and;
- Provide employees with guidance on the use of social media in the workplace.
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