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Is Antivirus Dead? Cognoscape at CompTIA’s Great Security Debate

Charles Tholen, Brian Dye, Chris Johnson, Dan Liutikas

Charles Tholen joins a panel of IT security experts to discuss antivirus software, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and much more at CompTIA’s ChannelCon 2014 in Phoenix.

By Dan Kobialka | Talkin’ Cloud

Several IT security experts discussed antivirus software, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and numerous solution provider concerns during “The Great Security Debate” at CompTIA‘s ChannelCon 2014 in Phoenix.

Panel members discussed a variety of IT security topics, including whether “antivirus is dead.”

Brian Dye, Symantec‘s (SYMC’s) senior vice president for information security, told The Wall Street Journal in May he believed “antivirus is dead” because it is no longer “a moneymaker in any way.”

Cognoscape CEO Charles Tholen compared antivirus solutions to “locks” because both provide security, but there are still questions about whether antivirus solutions and locks deliver sufficient protection.

“Antivirus solutions are still more like the locks on our house, but are the locks on this business really good enough?” Tholen asked attendees.

Tholen noted a risk mitigation strategy is important for businesses, yet this plan should only be one component of their overall IT strategy.

“A risk mitigation strategy around the risks of end users is not a real strategy; you have to look beyond the end users,” he said.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) also creates challenges for solution providers, especially since more employers are searching for ways to leverage cloud and mobile solutions.

Chris Johnson, CEO of healthcare IT provider Untangled Solutions, said mobile devices are like “panes of glass,” and businesses need to implement strategies to manage these devices.

“I look at devices like panes of glass … we just assume they will work without human interaction,” Johnson said. “For the most part, a mobile device involves turning it on and it works. That’s where the challenge is for businesses.”

BYOD may create new challenges for both solution providers and end users as well.

“There’s no question that end users have a lot of issues to deal with, [and] the question becomes what role the IT solution provider will play,” CompTIA Chief Legal Officer Dan Liutikas added.

Johnson said antivirus solutions and BYOD, however, can create opportunities, and he pointed out education is key for solution providers and end users to avoid security and compliance issues.

“Security and compliance is not a product; it’s a mix of products and services, it’s a moving target. That education point is so important,” Johnson said.

Is your Antivirus an appropriate “lock” for your business, or is it “Dead”? Click Here to request a security check by Cognoscape.

3 Things to Consider Before Jumping Into BYOD

71 You’ve read it time and time again. “Bring Your Own Device” isn’t a trend, it’s the future. Workplaces where companies let workers use their own devices for work purposes are the new normal. BYOD attracts new hires and lifts employee morale and productivity. But this doesn’t mean a small business owner should recklessly jump right into BYOD just because everyone else is doing it.  Data and network security concerns have to be thought out, defined, and addressed in a comprehensive BYOD policy. Here are three things to consider.

  1. Cost of Support

Most businesses salivate at the thought of the money saved by having employees participate in a BYOD program. With employees using their own devices for work, there is no need to shell out thousands of dollars for desktop PCs, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While that’s undoubtedly a huge incentive, extra support costs must also be factored in. Chances are your employees aren’t necessarily tech savvy and will need help deploying applications and performing basic yet very necessary maintenance techniques. Unless you have a dedicated IT support team, which most SMBs do not have, you will need to turn to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in your region for support. A MSP can provide specialized expertise and leverage Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to keep your network infrastructure and business applications monitored, secured and fully optimized.

  1. Limited Number of Support Devices

Obviously you can’t accommodate EVERY employee-owned device. Limiting the types of devices accepted in your BYOD program will mitigate any need to pay for software or equipment upgrades for outdated devices and keep your infrastructure safer as a whole. It’s important to not be too exclusive, select a broad range of devices and their more recent releases 72 to accommodate the varied preferences/tastes of your employees.

  1. Legal Risks

Adopting BYOD at your workplaces will expose your company to more legal risks. Sensitive business or private client/customer data can potentially be exposed if devices are lost or stolen. The personal online habits of your employees can also increase your network’s vulnerability to viruses, phishing, or hacking schemes designed to steal such data. These increased legal risks are another reason why SMBs must take precautions such as working with a MSP that offers a solid MDM solution to ensure all employee devices are configured, deployed, managed and monitored in a manner that prioritizes data integrity and security.

CLICK HERE for a free technology assessment.

4 Essential Pieces to Any Small Business BYOD Strategy

Believe it or not, once upon a time, kids at the bus stop didn’t have cell phones and the mobile device strategy of many businesses was typically you’ll take what you’re given, refrain from using it for any personal use, and the data may be scrubbed clean whenever we please.

We’ve come a long way.  Today, businesses really have no choice but to let employees use personal devices for work purposes.  Blurred lines now make it difficult to differentiate between what is professional and what is personal.  A company or organization may partially pay for an employee’s tablet computer or smartphone, but that same device is used to upload photos to Facebook or download torrents of this season of Game of Thrones.

Naturally, security and privacy issues are a concern since these devices synch to the company network.  Larger corporations may be able to hire IT support or produce sophisticated BYOD guidelines for employees to adhere to but smaller businesses have limited resources.

In fact, recent surveys suggest that the small business sector is doing very little to preemptively prepare for potential network security risks that could arise with the use of BYOD devices.  This could prove to be disastrous.

According to market stats from a survey conducted by Cisco in 2012, approximately 88% of employees are doing business on personal devices.     However, only 17% of companies currently have a BYOD security policy in place, and only 29% of companies have plans to implement a mobile device security plan in the near future. 22

Implementing a comprehensive BYOD policy right now, rather than when it’s too late, is important.  We’ve compiled a list of four items that any business currently building a BYOD strategy must consider.

  1. It must clearly be outlined what specific devices are permitted for work use.
  2. The company/organization must have the ability to remotely delete company-sensitive data from mobile devices without the device owner’s permission.  Remote deletion capabilities are much more refined these days; simplifying the removal of enterprise-related data from devices, while leaving other content like personal photos, contacts, apps and music downloads intact.
  3. Written policies should be put into effect that correspond with terms of use policies and any guidelines pertaining to remote/telecommute workers or the sharing of sensitive data.   There should be clearly defined consequences for violating any or all policies.
  4. Employee privacy should be discussed within the BYOD policy since employees often use these devices to check personal email, browse or post to Facebook and Twitter feeds, instant message, and store personal documents, photos, music and movie downloads.   Employees must understand that employers still have access to the content stored on these devices.  Location tracking, which gives employers the ability to locate employees, is also something to discuss since many people don’t necessarily welcome that kind of surveillance.

It is understandable that BYOD and more mobile employees have some small business owners feeling anxious and nervous.  But mobile management tools, periodic conversation, security checks, and research will do wonders when it comes to keeping small businesses safe.

Maintain security and safe BYOD practices. CLICK HERE for a free network and technology assessment.

Five Tips to Safe BYOD for SMBs

  1. Create a Mobile Device Policy and Enforce It

Don’t be afraid to spell out what employees are expected to do – and not do – with their mobile devices. It’s important to remember you aren’t only managing devices but people as well. This is where you define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and make it clear that there will be no exceptions.

Clearly define what types of devices are allowed. While you want to support a mix of the devices employees are most likely to carry, a line has to be drawn somewhere to prevent things from becoming unmanageable. No company, especially a small one, needs to open up things to 30 mobile devices. Minimum standards for device age and capabilities should be set. Newer technology will obviously have better security features. For instance, anything before the iPhone 3G will not permit device-level encryption.

Every policy should address acceptable personal device use when it comes to webbrowsing, app downloads/usage, public Wi-Fi protocol, and data transmission/storage guidelines.

  1. Keep Devices Lock & Password Protected

Your employees are using devices they take with them everywhere. You have no idea where they are at any given moment of the day. More importantly, you can only hope that their mobile device is either with them or stored away safely. Devices that aren’t password protected, which are left out in the open unattended, pose a huge risk.

Keep in mind that 46% of people who use their mobile device for work admit to letting others use it from time to time. Many devices have free built-in security controls such as locked screens, the ability to remotely wipe out the device after multiple successive failed authentication attempts, and even GPS trackability.

Passwords should be strong and frequently updated. Employees should also be advised to not keep written passwords lying around.

  1. Immediately Disconnect Terminated Employees or Voluntary Leaves

Be sure to remotely wipe company data from the personal device of any employee who is terminated or voluntarily leavesthe company. Ideally, this data should be retrieved. This is one reason a SMBs mobile device policy must address where employees are to edit and save files. Many SMBs these days require all files to be shared, edited, and saved on Cloudbased software like Dropbox.

  1. Use Available Encryption Technologies

Business critical files, folders, and hard drives should be encrypted for reliable protection against unauthorized access. Encryption prevents sensitive data from being read by potential hackers as content is transferred to and from mobile devices. 21

  1. Use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solution

MDM solutions are a cost-effective means to ensure that any mobile device accessing their network is identified, controlled, and monitored. This method of centralized management makes it easy to configure devices for enterprise access, stipulates password policy and encryption settings, locates and remotely clears and locks any lost or stolen device, automates security updates, and proactively identifies and resolves device or app issues.

CLICK HERE for a free network assessment.

 

 

Embracing the Age of Mobility & the BYOD Workplace

15 In today’s always-connected world, the time-honored separation of work and personal time is quickly disappearing. Mobile devices such as laptops, netbooks, tablets, and smartphones have fundamentally changed how all of us live and work.

With work no longer confined to a physical office space, or limited to traditional business hours, we’ve created an increasingly mobile and dispersed workforce capable of working anywhere at any time. 3 out of 5 workers today no longer believe an office presence is necessary for a productive day’s work. By 2015, the IDC estimates the U.S. will have over 200 million people working remotely.

By now, it’s obvious that BYOD (Bring- Your-Own-Device) isn’t just another buzz-worthy acronym or a workplace trend that will eventually fade; it’s part of the complete restructuring of the conventional way we’ve worked up to this point. There is simply no going back to the way we were. With or without company approval, employees prefer working from devices they own and are most comfortable with, meaning it’s out with yesterday’s loud, clunky and slow in-office desktop PCs and in with today’s feature-rich, on-the-go, employee-owned mobile devices.

Although many small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) have fully embraced BYOD for its countless benefits, this proliferation of employee-owned devices accessing company databases, files, and email servers is unprecedented. It is also risky because it increases vulnerability to security breaches and data loss.

Which raises the question: are workplaces today responsibly ushering in BYOD with safety, security, and long-term adaptability in mind?

THE MAINSTREAMING OF BYOD

It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago work mobility was practically nonexistent. We worked from cubicle farms with workstations and desktop PCs straight out of the movie Office Space. The office was our only access to the company network. Select employees might be provided with company-issued laptops with pre-loaded software useful for work. Perhaps they’d be trusted with FTP (File Transfer Protocol) privileges to access and transfer files to the server. Cell phones were actually just phones.

Even when BlackBerrys were introduced to the business world, allowing people to use a mobile handheld device to access their work email and manage their schedule for the very first time, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server made it easy for IT departments to configure and manage the device. BlackBerrys eventually gave way to iPhones and Androids. Laptops eventually gave way to iPads and tablets that combined laptop usability with smartphone portability. Meanwhile, the number of public Wi- Fi hotspots grew, making employees eager to access their company network and work files from just about anywhere through their mobile device.

Today, BYOD has become the “new normal”. A recent poll of 1,021 small business owners in the United States found that 68% allowed employees to use personal devices for work. 79% of CIOs at businesses who aren’t encouraging BYOD believe employees access their network with unauthorized personal devices every day.

Initial resistance to the BYOD movement has proven to be futile. Gartner, a technology research firm, predicts that 90% of businesses and organizations will support the use of personal devices for work purposes by the end of 2014.

And it certainly seems that more business owners today are seeing the upside of BYOD, which include…

Increased Production

On average, it has been approximated that businesses gain 9 additional hours of productivity per week when employees use personal devices.

Improved Service

The benefits of this increased production and greater flexibility naturally extend to clients and customers since mobility allows workers to resolve escalated issues or almost instantly reply to inquiries outside of normal work hours. It is common these days to receive an email response after 5pm with a “Sent from my iPhone” tagline at the bottom.

Reduced Costs

Transferring IT hardware and equipment expenses to employees can save SMBs significant money. A study conducted by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions projected that U.S. companies utilizing BYOD can save up to $3,150 per employee each year. Additionally, since consumers are drawn to the freshest technology, and the latest upgrade to their device of choice, businesses no longer have to budget to continually upgrade to keep up with technological advances.

In 2013, telecommunications and information technology service provider Cbeyond, Inc. conducted a blind survey of 711 C-level executives of firms with fewer than 250 employees. Their findings revealed that not only is BYOD more widely accepted today, but mobile devices have also become critical to day-to-day operations and essential to meeting business objectives. Many acknowledged that it would be a challenge to do business today otherwise. A fair share of executives felt their business couldn’t survive without mobile device usage. 20

One troubling aspect of the aforementioned report is 32% of the surveyed SMBs aren’t sure if their data is adequately protected. While they acknowledge that BYOD puts their organization at risk, just 22% of SMBs currently have a comprehensive BYOD policy in place to address mobile device usage and define data privileges extended to personal devices.

Here are a few reasons this sets a dangerous precedent.

  • Nearly a third of employees use more than one mobile device during a typical workday. It’s critical that organizations, especially small businesses, know whatdevices are accessing their network and whom they belong to.
  • With the existence of public Wi-Fi hotspots at coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, convention centers, trains, and airports, inadequately secured mobile devices are constantly exposed to hackers monitoring traffic on open networks. According to data compiled by the Ponemon Institute, 59% of organizations have experienced a rise in malware infections linked to insecure mobile devices.
  • BYOD makes SMBs increasingly susceptible to costly data breaches with 38% of these breaches occurring as the result of lost or stolen mobile devices. Verizon Business has estimated that 174 million records have been stolen in 855 data breaches linked to smartphones and tablets.
  • There are more than 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store. The Android Marketplace has over 200,000 apps. The security controls in place to evaluate the safety of these applications are suspect and some apps having phishing screens, hidden spyware, and malware. This means the apps or clients being used to access enterprise content could put your data at risk.

The adoption of BYOD can be beneficial to small businesses but it shouldn’tcompromise company or customer data. Developing a comprehensive BYOD policy minimizes risk while still granting full (and secure) access to the files and applications your employees need, regardless of where they are.

CLICK HERE for a free network assessment.