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Consumer apps, devices invading the enterprise

Many employees are using social networking applications at work and bringing personal devices into the office despite corporate policies, according to a survey released Thursday by Cisco.

Fifty-six percent of the 512 IT security professionals around the world who were polled in the survey said their employees use unsupported applications, including social networking (68%). Forty-one percent reported employees using unsupported devices and 40% of those said their company suffered a breach or loss of information because of unsupported devices. At the same time, 79% of survey participants said they restrict what employee bring onto the the network.

The study illustrates the growing problem of IT consumerization in the enterprise, said Fred Kost, Cisco director of security solutions, said during a press conference at the Cisco office in San Bruno, Calif. “Clearly application control is an issue they’re dealing with,” he said.

However, security pros realize draconian policies against Facebook and personal devices like smart phones aren’t sustainable, especially with a younger workforce, according to the survey. Seventy-one percent said overly strict security policies have a negative impact on hiring and retaining employees under 30 while 53% said they likely will allow personal devices on the network in the next 12 months.

“It’s a problem they see today, but they realize that saying “no” won’t work,” Kost said. “From a hiring/retention perspective, this becomes a big issue.”

He noted that the not all of the unsupported applications that employees are using are personal apps. Business units are tapping into cloud services that aren’t officially support by IT: 33% of those surveyed cited unsupported use of cloud applications such as Amazon S3 (33%).

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