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iPads Don't Make You Smart
Posted by David Rosenbaum | CFO.com | US
May 2, 2012 1:14 PM ET
A couple of weeks ago, my dishwasher started leaking. I needed a new machine. At Sears, dozens of dishwashers and one salesperson awaited me. The dishwashers were not bolted into their displays. When I opened a machine's door, it tipped forward, shelves sliding and rattling. The salesperson, who did seem bolted to the floor, shrugged. Not his problem. (Sears's problems, of course, have been well documented.) Meanwhile, the salesperson was eyeing his iPad. He wanted to give me print-outs; he wanted my e-mail address. What he didn't seem to want was to sell me a dishwasher, and he didn't. Our devices fascinate us. Last week, Apple's Q2 results testified to the mind-boggling popularity of its products. Since January, it's sold 35 million iPhones and almost 12 million iPads worldwide, representing the phalanx of the inescapable bring-your-own-device trend (BYOD). Even new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins admitted recently that BlackBerry -- long the preferred device of the traditional, centralized IT enterprise -- needed "a very, very strong play in the bring-your-own-device" segment. Heins has to address the consumer because the consumer is also an employee and is increasingly defining the way work will (or, in the case of the Sears salesperson, won't) be done. BYOD can help CFOs raise worker productivity while reducing capex for device procurement and support. But it also raises the risk of reducing worker productivity if their devices distract them. And, of course, these gadgets, if not properly governed, can compromise the security of business data. All Internet-connected devices are vulnerable, but a recent Symantec "Internet Security Threat Report" notes that employee-owned devices, used for non-work activity, are exposed "to more malware than a device strictly used for business purposes only." According to the report, 28% of that malware collects data from phones, and Symantec expects that percentage to increase, as it expects mobile malware to proliferate. Resisting the BYOD trend is quixotic; ignoring it is plum dumb. According to Steve Durbin, Global Vice President of the not-for-profit Information Security Forum, CFOs need to look at the iPads they're handing out and allowing to access their networks from the point of view of their business impact. "Don't focus on the gizmo," says Durbin. "We know they're sexy, cool. Focus on the data. If you protect the data, then it won't matter how it's being accessed." Durbin believes that BYOD can be a spur to encourage enterprises to "focus on what's important, what could cause financial loss," and define "what's not so critical." Smart phones and tablet increasingly are targets for cyber attacks precisely because their security is not being well managed. That state of affairs, says Durbin, can't continue. "Security is moving out of the realm of some geeky guy fixing the firewall to a real business issue integrated into the C-level risk portfolio," Durbin says. Finance executives, says Durbin, know how to do that, but until now have not viewed security in that way. Once they do, "it's about good corporate management. Correct implementations. Having good disaster recovery policies in place. Knowing what to do when things go wrong. Having a cyber response team team that knows what to do when there's a breach. "This problem," Durbin concludes, "is not going away." Certainly not as long as there are jerks with iPads.
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