Looking back at 2011, we saw more and more employees using consumer-grade (and often personally owned) file sharing technologies such as USB drives, smartphones, personal email accounts, and file sharing websites to move sensitive company information.  We’ve learned that employees will “do what they need to do” to be productive and get their job done… And if IT doesn’t provide them with the right tools, they will find their own.

2011 was also a record-breaking year for data breaches.  Coincidence?   Perhaps.  But there is no denying the fact that the increased use of non-sanctioned technology in the workplace has created a security loophole in many organizations.  It will become increasingly important for organizations to mitigate this risk to avoid a failed security or compliance audit or worse, a data breach.

Ipswitch can help your organization meet the security, usability and visibility requirements for file sharing.  For example, our Ad hoc Transfer module for MOVEit DMZ enables organization to enforce consistent policies and processes around person‐to‐person file transfers ‐ email encryption, attachment offloading, secure messaging, eDiscovery, and more.  It not only gives companies unparalleled governance, but it also allows end users to send information, with anyone, in a fast, easy, secure, visible, and well managed way.

We will be talking a lot more about the topic of people person-to-person file sharing in 2012, so stay tuned….

Data breaches, confidentiality and privacy will remain key areas of concern in 2011, and these topics fuel many of Ipswitch’s 2011 security predictions.

2011 will be the year that smart companies shift their focus away from tactical (and often reactive) security tools and instead focus strategically on policy creation, management and enforcement.  More organizations will shift their approach from quick-fix to preventative.

Four more 2011 predictions:

  • Enterprises will start monitoring and managing the information flowing to and from personal email, IM and cloud-based services.
  • The largest data breach of 2011 will hit the retail sector.
  • A major data breach with further reaching diplomatic consequences than WikiLeaks will be the direct result of a lost smart phone or USB drive.
  • Organizations in the financial, media and health sectors will gain larger market share by leveraging company investments in MFT, specifically those that offer visibility, analysis and analytics.

I’ve blogged a bunch on Ipswitch’s 2010 research that unveiled startling trends about employee access and use of company information.  Our 2011 predictions are in part fueled by some of these facts:

And here is a fun video by Frank Kenney on top IT policies that WILL BE INGORED by employees:

For those unfamiliar, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom is the independent regulatory office dealing with data protection regulations such as the Data Protection Act.

Like many policy makers, the actual enforcement of policies has been a major stumbling block to their potential effectiveness.  Up until recently, the ICO enforcement powers were very limited.  However, the ICO has very recently started to issue fines (or “monetary penalties”) for failing to comply with the Data Protection Act.

  • A4e was fined £60,000 for losing an unencrypted laptop containing thousands of client details
  • Hertfordshire County Council was fined £100,000 for faxing details about a child sex abuse case to the wrong people

At the very least, seeing harsh penalties handed out for data breaches should help increase organization’s focus on protecting sensitive business and customer information.  Hopefully that focus will be centered less on what device people are using to access company files and data (such as USB drives, personal email, portable hard drives, smart phones, etc) and more on the underlying risk mitigation need.

“This is part of a wider trend whereby the penalties for, and consequences of, inadequate security measures are increasingly costly and come from different sources – from the payments card industry, to government and private sector contracts, to activist regulators and the public at large,” said Frank Kenney, VP of Global Strategy at Ipswitch File Transfer.  “The ICO move has to be seen in the wider context of increased compliance activity.”

Businesses need to take inventory of their own information and understand what confidential files exist and where they are located.  Access to confidential files should only be granted to people that are required to use it as part of their job.  Simply making policies won’t make a difference; organizations need to follow up with policy enforcement and also must provide employees with the right tools to keep them productive so they done need to resort to their own devices.