IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Changing Complexion of Secure File Transfer in 2014
December 19, 2013
In this interview, Bill Ho, President at Biscom, offers expert advice for organizations looking to tackle cloud and mobile challenges, as well as increase productivity while retaining data security.
- Q. What are some of the driving factors that will affect Secure File Transfer in 2014?
A. I think a major factor will be the growth of data in general, and the propensity to share that data with others as well as yourself. One common way of working on a document at work and at home is to simply email it to yourself back and forth. While this is easy, it does incur some additional work and it means different versions of the file are being saved in email threads. Plus the fact that email is not a secure platform means that document is vulnerable to exposure. With synchronization technology available, working on a document from different locations has become extremely simplistic – you have a synchronized folder at each location, e.g. home and work, and when you get home, you simply pick up where you left off at work. All of this must be done with security and IT management in place or you’re still at risk of exposing corporate data.
- Q. What emerging technologies do you think will drive complexities for collaborating in the enterprise?
A. Expectations around collaboration continue to evolve – not that the concept or needs have grown more complex necessarily, but how we share has changed – it’s done from any web browser, and any device. The reasons mobile devices are so convenient and useful are exactly the reasons they cause concern at the IT security level – it’s almost too easy to access information. So, realigning user expectations with the realities of IT security requirements, and building solutions that satisfy both camps will be what drives complexity – a lot of effort goes into making collaboration tools both simple and secure.
- Q. How will authentication procedures need to evolve in order to encourage workers to comply with corporate security requirements?
A. The number of username/password combinations knowledge workers have to remember is growing quickly, so as we continue to march toward gating more information with authentication, workers will undoubtedly protest. I believe we’ll be starting to see more biometric authentication used – such as the iPhone fingerprint scanner. Biometric scanners are not that new, but they still seem to be futuristic, especially the ubiquitous retinal scanner used in James Bond movies. But it’s starting to appear in different forms – hand scanners, fingerprints, even facial recognition. However, false positives and negatives and overall accuracy concerns may hinder their acceptance – but as the technology improves, I believe we’ll see increased adoption of biometrics in security applications.
- Q. What will enterprises need to consider in order to provide dependable security for BYOD?
A. The challenge is the pace at which mobile devices are being updated, evolving, and adding more features and functionality to them. With each new advancement, enterprises will have to review their security policies and processes – what may have worked with a certain generation of devices may not be suitable for newer devices. Conversely, older devices may no longer be supported. And the fact that there are so many different types of devices and operating systems just makes it that much harder. It’s a containment strategy right now until device manufacturers and operating system providers look at how to incorporate more security into the DNA of these devices.
- Q. How will cloud computing continue to change the nature of secure content delivery?
A. The cloud is a great way to remove the complexities and burden of maintaining services and applications for tools and utilities that are outside a company’s main line of business. But I think the pendulum is starting to swing backwards and companies want to own the tools and run them in their own network to ensure security and confidentiality. If you do use the cloud, you must do your due diligence in understanding how your data is stored, whether it’s comingled with other data, and what the cloud provider’s access policies are for your data. I think we’ll continue to see the cloud expand we’ll continue to see growth in services that don’t operate in the realm of confidential or sensitive information. But for certain industries, particularly regulated ones, the cloud may not be a viable option.
- Q.What advice would you give to a multi-device workforce about steps to increase productivity while also retaining data security?
A. I think enterprise file sharing and synchronization (EFSS) is going to be a huge boon to people who sport multiple devices. The challenge will be in making sure these EFSS solutions provide the level of security that companies require when opening up access to corporate data. But the idea of seamless access to information will be very well received by the workforce. I would also look at enterprise mobility applications that can manage and control the accessibility to corporate data and wipe devices if they are lost. This may lead to a workforce that does not need to juggle multiple devices as a single device will suffice.
Mr. Ho brings more than 20 years of Internet and software experience in the technology field to his position as President at Biscom. Bill received a BS from Stanford University and an MS from Harvard University, both in the field of Computer Science.