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Employees, Cloud, and Company Data: Problem or Reality?

The issue of ‘rogue IT’ can be exacerbated as an employee leaves a company

Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Apple iCloud. Chances are if your employees have Internet-connected mobile devices, they are using these and other services to store and transmit your company data — with or without your approval. That’s according to a new study from Enterprise Strategy Group, which found that while more than 75 percent of companies it surveyed had policies that prohibit the use of online file sharing and related tools, by and large their employees went ahead and used them anyway.

Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, EvernoteAs Computerworld’s Lucas Mearian reports: “Even if employees are physically prohibited by a company’s network from using a consumer file sharing service … it’s not unusual for them to link to their favorite service via a WiFi hotspot or a conference room network.”

The issue of ‘rogue IT’ can be exacerbated as an employee leaves a company, taking privileged corporate information along with them, Mearian adds.

[ See BYOD: Is There a Security Risk? ]

But blame does not fall upon employees alone. A December 2012 study from enterprise storage firm Nasuni found that, when it comes to using unsanctioned file sharing and cloud storage tools, “corporate leaders are the worst culprits.” The firm found that “VPs and directors are most likely to use Dropbox despite the risks.”

So, what’s an IT decision maker to do? As ESG’s Terri McClure noted at SNW’s spring meeting, it’s best to embrace the trend rather than reject it. McClure suggested that companies deploy their own user-friendly file sharing and cloud storage services, so that employees would be more willing to adopt them.

According to Mearian’s report, speaking at SNW, McClure said that:

One of the biggest cost-savings opportunities you’re looking at when deploying a private or public file sharing service is the ability to get rid of your VPN. … This stuff will have a material impact on business. If you can remove friction on file sharing, you can speed collaboration.

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