But uptake has slowed.
Stop saying no, or face the law of unintended consequences
Saying no doesn't solve problems and it often makes new ones. That's true inside business and out on the wider Internet.
Take the correlation between Internet censorship and spam.
The servers that bring you spam and phishing emails and malware-driven attacks aren't always located where you expect them to be -- and the location is far from random, according to research by Giovane Moreira Moura into what he calls Internet Bad Neighborhoods.
Moreira Moura was trying to find out whether Internet crime is like the real world, where we're happy to label an area with a high crime rate a "bad neighborhood." His analysis suggests that yes, there are some ISPs, cities, and countries where servers are more likely to be behaving badly.
But unlike real-world bad neighborhoods, you can't spot Internet danger spots by the look of the streets. Phishing sites turn out to mostly be located in the US: the top four are Dallas, Chicago, Provo and Houston. That's because they're home to large data centers and cloud providers where the fake phishing sites can be hosted -- because phishers care about uptime as much as legitimate businesses do. Orlando, Atlanta, and San Francisco also make the list, along with Moscow and Bangkok.
Spamming hosts are found all over the world, but three quarters of all spam comes from just 20 countries, mostly in Asia and South America; India, Vietnam and Brazil top the list. Moreira Moura looked at over 42,000 ISPs and almost half the IP addresses responsible for spam are owned by just 20 ISPs, mostly in Southern Asia. Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Tunisia appear unusually high on a list you might expect to be dominated by larger countries like Russia, India, China, and Brazil (which are all in the top 20).
It's not just that administrators in those countries might be less experienced (or possibly less concerned about cutting off a paying customer for bad behavior). Moreira Moura points out that -- along with China -- those five countries all control and censor Internet access or use it for surveillance of their citizens. As well as operating the well-known 'Great Firewall of China', the Chinese government monitors all Skype calls. Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vietnam all filter political or social content, and Tunisia only stopped doing so after the Arab Spring and the removal of President Ben Ali in 2011.
The problem is, if you're filtering what information people can see and limiting what websites they can visit, you're also encouraging them to access open proxies, to visit unofficial websites, and to install tools they think will get them what they want. That makes them far more likely to install malware or infected software, making them part of a botnet, and they're more likely to end up at a malicious website along the way.
A similar lesson can be applied to IT: The more you say no, the less secure you actually are.
If you don't let employees access email on their own devices, or you give them such a small mailbox quota that they have to archive or delete emails, they'll just forward messages to Gmail or save them as unmanageable, unsecurable PST files on their computers so they can read them. And if you're blocking Gmail in your organization, your employees will be searching Google to find lists of open proxies that might let them get their email -- and might just compromise your network.
You can think of it as the law of unintended consequences -- and while making things more secure is a common culprit, trying to save money can be part of the problem. IT departments lamenting the arrival of consumer cloud storage in their business have only themselves to blame.
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