Telework Security Remains a Key Concern

Cybersecurity remains a major concern for agencies trying to implement reliable telework access for federal employees, a new survey suggests.

The 2012 Telework-Mobile IT Almanac by Telework Exchange, released Tuesday, found that 45 percent of IT professionals cite cybersecurity as their agency's number one IT infrastructure component that must be improved or expanded in order to make telework more reliable and accessible for employees. Networks (43 percent), wireless access (42 percent), servers (39 percent) and storage (33 percent) also were cited as necessary improvements, the survey found.

While current telework security priorities at agencies focus on encryption (82 percent), automatic software updates (78 percent) and web security filters (77 percent), IT professionals indicated that mobile asset management (33 percent), data loss prevention (25 percent) and multi-factor authentication (21 percent) will also be implemented in the next two years.

"There is a need to protect and segregate government information even when on personal equipment, but the cost savings of allowing individuals to choose personal devices over government equipment is substantial," said one federal IT manager in the study. "For the first time, individuals have better, more advanced equipment and telecommunications at home and on their person than at the office."

Still, while security remains a key focus, agencies are perhaps not focusing enough on a mandate that requires them to reduce costs associated with employee IT devices. An executive order issued by the Obama administration in November 2011 requires agencies to reduce costs associated with employee IT devices to 20 percent below fiscal 2010 levels, but only 54 percent of federal IT professionals said their agency is currently working on a plan to do so. Agencies were required to submit plans to the Office of Management and Budget by December 2011.

Of those agencies that have a plan in place, the focus is on pooling mobile purchases within the agency (52 percent), migrating from desktops to mobile devices (50 percent), adopting cloud computing (46 percent), consolidating wireless contracts (46 percent), implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy (20 percent), and pooling mobile purchases with other agencies (16 percent).

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