Businesses apprehensive about providing wireless access to visitors

Businesses are failing to boost productivity by preventing wireless internet access to visitors due to security concerns, new research shows.

The study, conducted by The Cloud, which sought the views of IT workers, found that despite the widespread acknowledgement of the benefits of allowing corporate network access to visitors, such as contractors and partners, many of those surveyed expressed concerns.

A fifth of those polled admitted that it is impossible for them to allow business visitor access to the company network because of security risks. A quarter revealed that legal liability was another objection to permitting temporary internet access over corporate networks, 23 per cent because it would create additional work for IT administrators and 21 per cent confessed compliance breaches were a worry.

However, high numbers of those surveyed - 80 per cent - said that they believe there are benefits of allowing guest access to the corporate network. The main reason, with just over a third, was developing good relationships with clients and partners, followed by increasing contractor efficiency and reducing costs, with 14 per cent and a close third with 13 per cent, increasing staff flexibility.

According to Mark Simon, Managing Director of GuestBridge, the research shows that there is a clear discrepancy between businesses wanting to provide network access to visitors and the concerns that prevent them from doing so.

"Companies know it makes good business sense to provide a level of guest access but there are a lot of barriers to overcome," he said. "Not only are there concerns around security but IT managers are realising how much of a drain it becomes on resources to manually provision and support guest access on an ad hoc basis. Added to this are uncertainties around liability. By acting as a service provider, companies become responsible for the traffic across their network. This has implications for both corporate compliance and legal liability."

He added: "Corporate networks could be adding much more value to the business ecosystem by letting staff, guests, partners and contractors achieve maximum productivity through high speed internet access. However, for many the barriers look insurmountable."

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