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In a trend that is escalating, Web 2.0 applications can transform web browsers into security battlefields that need to be defended as vigorously as each computer and mobile device accessing the network.



Hyperconnectivity -- where everything that can be connected, will be -- is continuing to drive huge increases in devices, users and applications accessing networks. Nortel estimates that, by 2010, there will be 10 devices connected to the network for every person using them, resulting in five billion connection points around the world.

Even in this world of hyperconnectivity, security is usually taken for granted or it is not a top priority for busy employees who are trying to get things done quickly. This is something I see every day doing consulting.

Hyperconnectivity further complicates the challenge for today's IT professionals who must keep security tight across all devices and applications without putting so many restrictive barriers in place that they slow down business processes and productivity.

As a consulting services professional for enterprise security to Nortel customers, I find even when security is designed to be high for corporate information, employees often disregard their company's safeguards, in practice, adding another level of risk that's hard to defend against. UK-based IT Governance Limited recently issued a report based on its survey that found 68 percent of employees admit to bypassing their employers' information security controls in order to do their jobs.

Employees aren't being malicious when they do things like send a highly confidential document to a colleague through public IM services like Yahoo, or connect their laptop to WiFi at an airport. They are probably just trying to use some valuable time to make progress on their work.

Shackling an enterprise with too many security features, for example, can slow corporate web servers to a crawl as they get bogged down with processing-intensive tasks like encryption and decryption of all data, causing network delays that can seriously disrupt the real-time quality needed for live Webcasts or VoIP conversations.

It's a constant balancing act between two ideas: what's an acceptable level of risk, and when does security get so restrictive that it's too much? While the complexity of securing the enterprise today across so many interconnected devices and applications is certainly much higher, the basic approach is simple and the principles are no different from how things worked with Web 1.0.

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