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Top 5 Topics in Information Technology

April 8, 2013

King’s online information technology degree features a capstone on current issues in technology. Explore some of the biggest concerns in the industry.

Today’s IT professionals face new and evolving challenges when it comes to privacy, security and infrastructure. An information technology online degree from King University provides the opportunity for IT students to explore current issues in technology from an ethical and practical stance. Five of the biggest concerns in information technology are outlined below.

Social Media Privacy

Social media is a competitive market. In the rush to add new features to current offerings, user privacy sometimes gets left on the back burner. Apps and plug-ins that utilize GPS location and single access sign-on present unique security concerns for users. Most social media features now require users to grant access to their personal information, including publicly shared pictures and status updates, before they can use the service. Users innocently share this data so that they can register for marketing incentives like coupons on raffle drawings.

The icing on the cake is that companies are largely left to their own devices when it comes to developing and instituting security policies. There is no universal security legislation, and companies are free to change their policies as they see fit. Facebook, for example, has changed their security policy and privacy settings numerous times in recent years, leaving some users feeling confused and unprotected.

But how much do users actually value their privacy? This report from NBC News shows data that suggests social media users value their privacy less than those who avoid social media networks. A poll conducted by The Ponemon Institute shows that feelings on privacy have become polarized. Thirty-six percent of participants said they felt privacy was less important than it was five years ago; the exact same percentage said they felt it was more important. Interestingly, the two groups agreed that they have less control over their information than they did five years ago.

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Workplace Monitoring

Privacy can be an issue in the workplace, as well. As technology advances, employers are able to easily and inexpensively install and operate surveillance from security cameras and motion detectors to software that tracks employee internet usage. Companies have several motivators for using these tools. Monitoring employees allows businesses to keep tabs on the dissemination of potentially confidential information, track productivity and even prevent lawsuits by watching for harassing behavior.

Many questions arise from these practices. How much privacy, if any, are employees entitled to when using company equipment? Is it acceptable to conduct personal business at work? Do employers have a right to penalize employees for conduct and information relayed through social media while off the clock?

As the law begins to catch up with the digital age, some of these questions will find concrete answers. For now, information technology personnel are the watchdogs and the gatekeepers.

Mobile Security

Mobile devices can be both the instruments and victims of privacy violations. Google’s latest innovation, Google Glass, has been pre-emptively banned at a diner in Seattle due to the security implications of an unobtrusive mobile device capable of discreetly recording audio, video and still footage in public and private places. However, most security threats from mobile devices result from the manner in which the consumer uses the technology:

  • Consumers who elect to set PINs and passwords for their mobile devices often choose easily deciphered codes, such as 1234 or 0000.
  • Users may unknowingly download malware disguised as a useful application.
  • Out-of-date operating systems may pose threats. OS manufacturers periodically release security patches and fixes, but it is up to the consumer to update their devices. Older devices may not support new updates to the OS.
  • Out-of-date software presents similar security risks. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software.
  • Wireless transmissions are not always encrypted, making information sent via mobile devices easier to intercept.

With users treating their devices in such a blasí fashion, it can be difficult and frustrating for IT specialists to help users avoid security and privacy especially when those devices are used for company purposes.

Bring-Your-Own-Device Support

In a BYOD program, employees use their own personal mobile devices to conduct business within the company. Allowing employees to use their own devices takes control away from the company. Corporate data stored on personal employee devices is at risk due to malware and information leaks, most notably resulting from the loss or theft of a device.

A study conducted by research firm Gartner suggests that IT should obtain an employee’s consent to remotely wipe their device in the event of a security breach when the employee enrolls in the BYOD program. Gartner also recommends whitelisting and blacklisting certain applications and software.

Cloud Strategy

Too often in IT, a wait-and-see approach is taken. Changes in workflow and project management arise from immediate need, and then IT swoops in to make sense of it all. Experts in the industry argue that this model is ill-advised for instituting a cloud strategy. Implementation needs to come from the top-down. This coming year will make or break the cloud enterprise, and the best method is to develop and implement a cogent plan. That plan may include hybrid models, since trust in cloud computing isn’t where it needs to be just yet. As the technology matures, more users will be comfortable getting on board.

Businesses will face a challenge in recruiting and retaining trained cloud engineers and support professionals. According to Forbes, a certification in cloud computing could mean a 30 to 50 percent pay increase. An online information technology degree can get you on the path to fulfilling this need. Visit King University Online to learn more about degree options that can put you on the fast track to an exciting career in IT.

King University has a reputation for academic excellence that goes beyond the classroom. Our online degree programs position graduates for an exceptional career or continued educational opportunities. More than 80 percent of King graduate survey respondents indicated they received admission to their first choice of graduate programs. Make an investment in your future with an online degree from King University.