While computer users are being encouraged to troubleshoot and seek online solutions to their problems, the temptation to use tools not offered by the IT department is luring increasing numbers of office workers to use on-demand software from the web. Yet in doing so, they could be opening up their organization to new security threats.
On-demand software accessed via the Internet is a relatively new service. This delivery model means there is no software to buy or maintain.
Users simply open their Internet browser and start streaming the software on an on-demand basis. On-demand software may be employed in accounting, graphical design and computer solutions like Speeding up the processor, partitioning memory or Antivirus and Data Recovery programs.
Usually, payment is determined just for the period of time the software is required or evaded in case of free trial versions.
According to the giant IT solutions company, HP, the behavioral shift where workers look beyond internal offerings to find the software they need is being labeled “technology populism” or “office 2.0” by IT analysts like Nucleus Research and Forrester.
Currently, many examples of on-demand applications exist online. For example, Microsoft® has a version of MS Office software that is available via the web, on demand.
Applications that are not very processor intensive are well suited to on-demand delivery, while intensive applications such as computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing are not yet ready to be delivered in this manner.
Free Trial Version Software and Pirated Software
Most of the free trial version Software offered on the Internet such as Anti Virus programs tempt users to evade getting the real solutions for their computer problems as they are expensive.
They hence develop a habit of downloading free samples which in most cases will offer a temporary solution while creating more problems like vulnerability to spy ware attacks and failure to detect some virus leading to system break downs.
To make matters worse some of the Software downloaded off the Internet could be pirated offering a solution similar to the real one but with dire consequences if tracked by the manufactures of the licensed one.
How does pirated Software get on the internet? The copyright infringement of fabricated Software is a growing crime that leads to illegal sale of the Software through online auctions.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the crime was estimated at 53% in the year 2004 with China being the largest producer of pirated Software. Once this Software is tracked it can be blacklisted leading to huge financial losses or imprisonment.
However the use of pirated Software such as Windows Operating Systems has become quite rampant in third world countries as they can be duplicated hence offer a much cheaper solution than licensed ones.
This problem can be quickly solved by reducing the price of licensed Software which is currently hefty and a strain on these countries’ weak economies or injecting more funds into ICT development of developing countries.
There can be maintenance and support problems that will increase IT workloads and divert IT staff from more vital tasks, plus open up security loopholes. Because of this, most businesses are unwilling to relinquish centralized control of their applications.
This Software may prove useless due to lack of physical follow up from its providers incase any problems arise from its use.
The Art of Rogue Employee Management
The American Consulting firm, Yankee Group has released a report covering the threat on-demand software tools pose to IT control.
In the 2007 white paper “Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management”, Yankee Group says any productivity and performance benefits that employees gain from on-demand applications create a risky mix of secure and vulnerable software tools within an organization.
Controlling on-demand software could become an “endless game of whack-a-mole” warns the report. As quickly as IT administrators find and forbid unauthorized applications, new ones will be downloaded, creating potential security threats.
Leaving the door open for hackers
While on-demand software provides workers with handy tools, it can also create unwatched entry points for hackers and thieves. Once inside your infrastructure, intruders are always just a few clicks away from the heart of your business.
For this reason, coordinated and centralized security is vital for the proper protection of organizations.
Like the forbidden fruit, on-demand software can provide workers with a tempting range of benefits that they may not be able to access normally.
Yet the risks of allowing staff to download and operate with any tools they choose can place undue strain on IT departments and open potential security loopholes.
Letting users download Software for themselves might expose their machines to failure caused by clogging-up of the System Memory or incompatibility with the Operating system.
This may result into constant hanging of the machine or disruption of some programs and will be solved by removing the new Software.
Factors to Consider in Downloading any Software
Among the factors to be considered when installing any Software are; the necessity of the program on that particular machine, if it is work-related or for personal use, its affordability as well as compatibility with the system configuration and the memory available.
The Software should only be downloaded if it is absolutely necessary and can not be obtained physically from a renowned supplier who can be accountable for its follow-up or if the Internet is offering a cheaper option that meets the user’s needs.
Sometimes users may download Software that for their own personal use such as entertainment, education and messaging.
This option should be discouraged in the work regulations but incase it absolutely facilitates the user; it can be allowed depending on the System resources available with care not overload the computer memory or processor.
In case need arises to download on-demand programs, always consult the System Administrator or an IT expert.