Research: Organizations With Highly Mobile Workforces More Susceptible To IT Security Issues

Organizations spend an average of 127 hours per month managing on-site security solutions and related problems, according to new research from Webroot, the first Internet security service company. The top time thieves are updating software and hardware, reimaging infected machines, and enforcing end user Internet and e-mail policies.

Webroot surveyed 820 IT decision-makers in organizations with 100 to 5,000 employees in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The company found organizations with more remote or mobile employees face more problems when using on-premise security. Specifically, these companies are 43 percent more likely to experience phishing attacks and 33 percent more likely to experience viruses or worms than organizations using cloud security. Time spent repairing damage and addressing other repercussions is also more significant.

“The burden of managing on-premise security solutions is clearly taking a toll on IT departments," said Gerhard Eschelbeck, chief technology officer of Webroot. “On-premise solutions, whether they’re appliances or software, simply cannot keep up with today’s threat landscape, which is complicated by the need to protect a highly mobile workforce. Two-thirds of the companies we surveyed have at least a quarter of their employees remotely accessing corporate servers.  Those using on-premise solutions have suffered higher rates of malware attacks than companies using cloud security solutions, which are more effective and easier to manage.”

According to the study, the time and cost associated with managing on-site security solutions is substantial:

  • Managing software and hardware updates alone plunders more than two full workdays (18.6 hours) per month.
  • Only seven percent of respondents said that managing software and hardware updates has no impact on their IT resources.
  • The second highest resource consumption is re-imaging infected machines, which takes more than 17 hours per month.
  • Enforcing end user policies and managing patches rank third and fourth respectively, each consuming more than 16 hours per month.
  • Two in 10 respondents describe the impact of these activities as major or severe.

Companies with one-fourth or more of their employees accessing the server remotely face the greatest repercussions:

  • Help desk time to repair damage increases 10 percentage points (from 19 percent to 29 percent).
  • Compromised customer data triples (19 percent versus six percent).
  • Web site compromises and hacking attacks each increase by 10 percentage points.
  • Those using cloud security are 30 percent less likely to experience phishing attacks than those using on-premise security solutions, 25 percent less likely to experience viruses or worms, and 20 percent less likely to experience spyware.

Securing mobile users is the top security challenge in 2011.

  • 33 percent of respondents rank securing mobile/laptop users as their number one challenge in the year ahead.
  • Mobile user protection ranked in the top five reasons that companies are considering cloud-based Web security, with 12 percent citing it as a primary reason they have adopted or will adopt it.
  • The next highest ranked security challenges in 2011 are preventing data breaches (26 percent) and protecting against Web-based malware (25 percent).

The burden of managing on-premise security is not going unnoticed by companies:

  • Only 18 percent of companies with on-premise security strongly agree that their IT security vendors act as if they work for them, whereas that number nearly doubles amongst those that have implemented cloud-based Web security solutions.
  • The hours spent dealing with on-premise security issues translate into lost hours in other areas: Only 26 percent of companies using on-premise solutions strongly agree that their solutions enable them to spend more time on strategic IT initiatives, compared with 42 percent that have implemented cloud-based Web security.
  • Four in 10 respondents plan to implement cloud-based Web security in 2011 or 2012. The top cited reasons are to simplify management of Web security (21 percent), reduce burden on IT staff (16.2 percent) and improve effectiveness against malware (15 percent).


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