Making the case for the iPhone

November 10, 2010

As the workforce becomes more distributed and the traditional network perimeter continues to erode, an security's professional's first reaction might be to block devices such as iPhones from connecting to the corporate network.

That is the wrong approach, said Nick Edwards, director of product management at Cisco, in a lunch keynote Wednesday at SC World Congress.

Forcing workers to use legacy systems to access business data will slow them down and thus hurt business, he said. And even if restrictions are in place, workers will find ways to use their personal devices in the workplace.

A recent Cisco survey of 500 IT security professionals globally found that 41 percent of the respondents have determined that employees have been using unsupported devices, and more than one-third of that number said they have had a breach or loss of information due to unsupported network devices.

"This is a trend that should be embraced," Edwards said of the smartphone craze. "We believe work is changing from a place you go to, to a thing you do."

To avoid breaking the "security paradigm," there is technology to enable secure mobility, Edwards said. 

Another suggestion: Organizations can consider letting their employees select and own their device, which actually would reduce support calls because users would be trusted to take care of the devices themselves.

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