BYOD and ever-increasing mobility are business trends that are forcing many organizations to take a fresh look at security. The idea of employees connecting from home, coffee shops, and even planes has led to an overall increasing awareness of the need to secure remote connections. At the same time, business data residing on the iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices of those employees is causing the IT industry to take a fresh look at mobile device security.
That is, of course, a good thing. With the focus on mobile security, however, many IT organizations are letting the security and overall design of their core networks to become outdated – and exposing their companies to incredible risks in the process.
According enterprise technology firm Dimension Data, most IT teams have developed a “disproportionate focus” on endpoint devices. That focus includes the traditional endpoints like employee workstations as well as the growing crop of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad that are making their way into the workplace.
That focus on endpoints and on the more external facing portions of a network like Wi-Fi is leading to decreased planning, updating, and securing of the network core.
Dimension’s business development director for network integration Raoul Tecala points out that the focus on high performance at the outer layers of a network is beginning to be seen as the top priority, which could have a range of consequences.
Organizations cannot ignore the basic routing and switching equipment at the core of the network. Without adequate planning, organizations can expect traffic jams and performance bottlenecks. It’s like building a number of new on-ramps onto a motorway, and not adding new lanes to carry the additional traffic.
The problems aren’t just limited to performance. According the Dimensions’s Network Barometer report for 2012, 75% of network devices contain at least one security vulnerability. The report also identifies the top ten vulnerabilities, including one present on 47% of network devices and four others that are considered highly critical or severe, for which device updates are available but not which many organizations have left unpatched.
The report also notes that most corporate networks have configuration issues on some of their core network systems as well as their peripheral network devices like Wi-Fi access points. Those issues can lead to performance, security, and access problems that may not be easy to identify and resolve effectively, particularly if the current state of the network isn’t well documented.
Aside from core network issues, the report identified that only a third (33%) of corporate networks currently support 802.11n – a fact that underscores the depth of challenges BYOD and mobile adoption present IT teams are facing when it comes to network management.