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Play it safe

01 Jul 10

It’s 5 o'clock: do you know where your computers are? Remember the good old days when offi ce computers were big clunky things that stayed chained to desks? Managing security was certainly simpler back when a reseller knew where all its customers' computers were and what they were up to.

These days your customers are more likely to hand out notebooks, netbooks and smartphones to staff, to encourage the notion of a mobile workforce. The work-anywhereanytime mentality might offer a productivity boost on the road, or outside traditional business hours, but the trade-off is that these corporate devices are now used for work and play. There are a growing number of gadgets, such as smartphones, netbooks and tablets, designed to slip into a bag and be used externally. And, as they head out of the offi ce door, the lines between work and play are further blurred and a range of new security challenges presents itself for channel players to tackle.

The free fl ow of devices in and out of the offi ce is set to increase. This year end-users will be responsible for half of all business IT procurement decisions, according to research by technology analyst group Gartner. Management consultants Accenture focused their research on a group of young workers it calls Millennials and found around one-third of this new generation of workers not only wanted to use the computer of their choice at work, but also wanted control of the applications they use too. Resellers need to ensure they stay in the loop, not just to protect revenues but also to protect customers against consumercentric threats fi nding their way into the workplace.

Digital entertainment no longer just involves employees slipping a CD or DVD into a computer. It involves them using a range of devices to draw content from a variety of sources, some fraught with danger. A modern IT security approach needs to protect both end-users from themselves and protect the corporate network when portable devices come back into the offi ce. Just as a co-worker with the ’fl u can infect the entire offi ce, so can a portable device threaten an entire organisation with a nasty infection.

Video content, especially of an unsavoury nature, has long been a favourite way of hackers to encourage people to inadvertently install malware. Peer-to-peer fi le-sharing services such as BitTorrent can be used to quickly spread infected fi les. Online video sites can also trap unsuspecting web surfers. If you want to watch this amazing video – whether it's a cute baby or a movie star caught in a compromising position – you'll need to update your video player. Just click here and you'll be on your way. The more desperate people are to watch the video, the more likely they are to throw common sense out the window and start clicking on things they shouldn't.

The security threat from digital entertainment is likely to rise, with video expected to account for 91% of consumer internet traffi c by 2013. This will be accompanied by the rise of digital signage and multimedia advertising designed to interact with our personal gadgets, bringing with it a new generation of threats and exploits. Now is the time for the reseller community to start paying attention to how these technologies will impact our lives, considering you'll be dealing with customers both producing and consuming this new form of interactive content. With devices and content constantly crossing corporate fi rewalls, security processes will also need to evolve.

Security starts at home. As resellers you must ensure that your own IT security measures are up to scratch, and that you're prepared for a new generation of threats, in order to best serve the needs of your customers.