Citrix’s Grace O’Rourke Veitch: security of the cloud will dominate CIO horizon in 2013 (video)

2 Nov 2012

Citrix Ireland country manager Grace O'Rourke Veitch

As IT managers and CIOs worked to get their heads around cloud, a separate revolution was raging in terms of BYOD and consumerisation of IT. Now, warns Citrix Ireland country manager Grace O’Rourke Veitch, they are hard-pressed to deal with the security implications of staff happily using the latest smartphones, tablets and services, like Dropbox.

It’s a bit like the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities, it’s both the best of times and the worst of times. I’m not talking about the economy, I’m talking about the technology landscape of 2012/2013.

Never before has so much computing power being granted to so many – smartphones, tablets, cloud apps, and social networks, to name a few.

But as 2013 gets closer and closer, never have the risks been greater, warns Veitch.

Workers are circumventing proscribed IT resources and are bringing their own devices of choice in what the industry calls the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Arguably, the technology people bring to work instead is far better than what the companies they work for can provide. Policies, she warns, aren’t keeping pace.

Video interview:

Citrix Ireland country manager Grace O’Rourke Veitch on how cloud is a reality for Irish organisations 

Risks and rewards

What few CIOs or IT managers appear to be prepared to address is the potential for data leakage. Workers are saving data across the cloud to services like Dropbox or Evernote or Google Docs on their own initiative and not with the blessing or knowledge of the IT department.

If the devices aren’t encrypted and fall into the hands of data thieves or the data in the cloud is hacked, companies could risk seeing customer information compromised and can expect a rebuke and a hefty fine from the Data Protection Commissioner. Not to mention the negative publicity that comes with it.

A recent survey by DataSolutions on behalf of Citrix found that more than a quarter of Irish organisations are providing no IT support or security for the personal devices workers use to access the company network. This is despite 85pc of firms knowing full well workers can access the company network this way.

The survey had an even more stark finding – 68pc of firms know staff walk around with private corporate (and potentially customer) information stored on their devices. The study of close to 100 Irish senior IT executives found that only 14pc actually support 75pc of the devices accessing their networks.

“The consumer is bringing these devices into work,” O’Rourke Veitch points out. “On average, every person I ask at conferences today carries two to three wireless devices with them. These are across the board: slates, Windows devices, Android devices, iPhone devices, and I think where we see it moving eventually is that in order to allow these workers to be device independent, the cloud will be key to centralise data.

“Private clouds within an organisation will be used to contain the data but make it accessible to the right people irrespective of the device. We are going to see more and more of these devices come on stream and more and more cloud services emerge, so how does an IT department manage all of these devices? The future will be about having a combination of IT as a service delivering mobile apps and software as a service (SaaS) to any device.”

Private storage zones

O’Rourke Veitch says that CIOs are less and less confused about the cloud and are becoming aware of the security risks. They see employees using Dropbox and other cloud services to send sensitive documents over the cloud and are becoming more motivated to manage the situation.

Citrix recently launched a product called ShareFile that provides local storage zones that function as a kind of Dropbox within the enterprise servers and hold the data securely within the organisation but still allow the employees to use the devices of their choice.

“Companies are realising that there are options out there to combat what is currently happening within their own organisation. Products and services that are consumer-driven are being tailored more for enterprise organisations,” she pointed out.

Join Citrix Ireland country manager Grace O’Rourke Veitch and Ireland’s digital leaders who will gather to discuss cloud computing and the big data revolution at the Cloud Capital Forum on Friday, 23 November, at the Convention Centre Dublin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years