Infosecurity Europe: make exceptions to the rules for Dropbox, says Telefonica

News by Jennifer Scott

The head of policy for the mobile operator Telefonica claims security personnel can find ways to allow consumer cloud storage into the corporate network and make exceptions to the rules.

The head of policy for the mobile operator Telefonica claims security personnel can find ways to allow consumer cloud storage into the corporate network and make exceptions to the rules.

Telefonica will make exceptions when it comes to popular cloud storage products, such as Dropbox, to try to keep visibility of their users.

The head of policy and corporate reporting for the parent company of Orange, Julian Jeffery, claimed security couldn't continue to be the ‘no guys' with such services, but needed to be open with employees and come to a compromise.

“It's all about the security culture,” he told SC Magazine at this week's Infosecurity Europe conference at Earls Court. “These services are great technologies that can help [employees] but we are not sure if they are secure.

“Now it is about how we get the message out to people about the risk [and] that they themselves can torpedo the whole organisation, even if they think they are [using the services] for the best of reasons.”

Telefonica's approach is to encourage employees to come to it with the service they want to use and agree in what cases or with what data this can be allowed, ensuring high levels of productivity, coupled with the necessary security.

“If they want to use these technologies, we [ask them] to come to us and we do a risk assessment with them,” said Jeffrey.

“If it is something that could be used but perhaps is against policy, we put something in place and set some exceptions up.”

He admitted it was doing this with services that may not adhere to the firm's own privacy policies, but it was better to know what was being used and put in limitations.

“[Users] are happy because their jobs aren't on the line, but the company knows the risk,” added Jeffrey. “We have to be quickly responsive to put it into [action].”

Andrew Hay, senior security analyst at The 451 Group, was more wary of such services, telling SC that companies needed to be aware of the risks they posed. While he could see the benefits of the system Telefonica had put in place, he did question whether other organisations could emulate it.

“This method is good for mature organisations, but for immature ones with a two-person IT team, I cannot see it happening,” he said.

Talking about a university he consulted with, Hay said it had just one policy in place when he arrived and only added one more, despite all his warnings.

“Having someone come down and propose a case as to why you need an application is all [well and] good, but some organisations just tell them to go ahead and use it and would worry about it later,” he added.

But Jeffrey argued it was a “risk-based thing” and different bodies will have different pressures.

“A university is one thing, but if you are in a competitive market or regulated, with the implications to your company of having data breaches [being more serious], it is much more of a compelling argument that you can't let it happen,” he concluded.

“What you are saying is right, but this does work for mature companies and I am lucky that I work for one.”

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