Mobile workforce leaves networks vulnerable, survey says

IT managers say security management tools are unable to protect mobile machines

A majority of IT managers believe the mobile workforce makes their enterprise networks more susceptible to malware and other threats, according to a new survey.

The survey of 450 IT managers found they are still at risk despite having antivirus products installed on endpoints and using systems management tools to distribute patches. The survey, commissioned by management software maker BigFix and conducted by GatePoint Research, also found that in some cases IT managers think their systems management tools have contributed to their devices falling victim to a worm or virus.

While 80 percent of those surveyed had antivirus products installed, about 40 percent had been hit by a worm or virus in the past 12 months. Of those that suffered a breach, 30 percent said an inability to reach mobile users disconnected from the network contributed to the intrusion or failure that allowed a virus onto their network.

"Securing the mobile workforce needs to be a top priority for global companies," said BigFix CTO Amrit Williams, in a company press release. "The key to real IT security is the ability to continuously enforce policies and manage your endpoints in real time when they are off the corporate LAN."

In addition to the vulnerabilities posed by the mobile workforce, 15 percent of respondents cited the inability to monitor and remediate security issues outside of patch management. Another 15 percent said a lack of immediate feedback on the remediation status was a contributing factor to the failure. Other reasons cited for vulnerabilities included an inability to identify vulnerable machines and deploy a fix in the desired time frame (12 percent), and another 12 percent said a lack of centralized reporting for a decentralized network administrative structure put their systems more at risk. And 10 percent said their systems management tools could not detect previously applied but removed or corrupted fixes.

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