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The cloud is only as secure as your weakest device

The cloud is only as secure as your weakest device

16/02/2016 10:26 by James Bray
Product Marketing Executive

It’s been two years since the Government gave the right of flexible working to every employee across the country with more than six months’ service.  Mobile working is set to continue to rise in the UK as more and more companies enable their employees to work away from the office – it’s estimated that 60 per cent of UK workers will regularly be working from home by 2022.  Businesses like EE and AXA already actively encourage their employees to work from home once or twice a week.

Cloud-based systems enable employees to work from any location; however despite the many benefits the cloud brings, they are only as secure as the weakest device being used to access them.  Using unspecified IT equipment, accessing files through an unsecure connection and downloading apps or files without permission (Shadow IT) are just some of the problems companies face from mobile workers.  These can result in business security and privacy being very quickly compromised.

Mobile working adds a whole new element of complexity when maintaining the security of business data, so how do companies protect themselves against this potentially large threat?

Managing mobility

Mobile working brings a huge range of benefits for businesses and their employees.  However, to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks, trust is key.  Businesses have to trust their employees to do their job just as well at home as they do in the office and they always have to extend that trust to how they access software and use IT systems.

The right technology helps companies to strengthen the security and privacy of their devices and information.  A good example is Office 365, which provides three layers of control to help tackle the mobility challenge that many companies are facing.

Programmes like Microsoft Intune help IT professionals to easily manage the administration of all company owned mobile devices.  It also supports the management of any mobile applications and software updates or further app deployment from the cloud to managed PCs.  Employees can then access company data, applications and resources from a secure log in on almost any device, at any time so they can work away from the office with ease.

Office 365 also offers RMS (Rights Management Services) which allows businesses to put restrictions on what information can be edited, shared or printed by employees - which also helps to alleviate compliance issues.

Finally, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) enables employees to access thousands of applications through a single, secure log in that is unique to them.  More efficient for the user and more control for the organisation.  Businesses can feel reassured by the security and compliance of Azure AD as it ensures the right people are accessing the right information at the right time.  Also, as each of these control layers is cloud-based, they are not only flexible in their use and continually updated, but also can be used without any additional IT infrastructure costs. 

The way forward

As mobile working increases throughout 2016 and beyond, companies will need to ensure that they minimise the risks from this new threat.  Cloud services such as Office 365 provide the necessary controls to make sure every device, user and piece of data on your network is under your control, but don’t forget, education throughout your organisation is also necessary.  Technology is a great framework to underpin your security policies, but if it isn’t backed up by correct user behaviour, you may increasingly find your data in places you don’t want it to be.

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