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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cisco survey: Cultural differences can complicate IT security when work goes offshore

Companies that are globalizing their operations or outsourcing work to offshore locations shouldn’t overlook behavioral and cultural differences when developing their security risk-management plans, according to a survey of IT managers and end users in 10 countries that was released yesterday by Cisco Systems Inc.  The survey results show that employee behavior can vary by country and culture and have a direct bearing on the threats posed to corporate data.

“As you globalize and move into new regions that you haven’t worked in before, you really need to understand the cultural differences” in order to implement an effective data protection strategy, said Marie Hattar, Cisco’s vice president of network and security solutions.

For example, about 64% of the IT decision-makers surveyed in China and nearly half of the ones in Brazil said they thought that employees at their companies allowed outsiders to use corporate laptops and mobile devices without any supervision.

Meanwhile, 39% of the end users polled in Brazil and 20% in India admitted to sharing sensitive information about their jobs with family members and friends; another 8% and 7%, respectively, said they had shared such data with absolute strangers.  In a majority of the cases, the survey respondents said they discussed sensitive information with others because they wanted to bounce an idea off of someone or just vent.

Compared with workers in other countries, a significantly larger proportion of end users in China (42%), Brazil (26%) and India (20%) altered the security settings on their company-issued laptops.

Posted on 10/01