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SMB IT support combats unauthorized downloads

Unnecessarily elevated user privileges and unauthorized downloads open business networks to serious hazards.

Unnecessarily elevated user privileges and unauthorized downloads open business networks to serious hazards.

While most IT professionals recognize the threat to company networks, 76 percent continue to remain in the dark about unauthorized employee downloads, according to a new survey.

Avecto, a developer of Windows privilege management tools, polled 1,500 IT professionals across several industries with varying degrees of decision-making power for their organizations. The results support a growing theme among small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Giving employees elevated user rights on network-connected devices takes a lot of process tasks off IT staffers' plates who are spread too thin as it is. But, with the good comes the bad.

By giving employees admin rights on company computers – or not properly vetting personal devices used for work – small business networks are vulnerable to any number of hazards. Downloading applications that have not been approved is an easy way to infect IT assets with malware and viruses. But, if employees are given such autonomy without the proper training or oversight, that's exactly what will happen.

Further complicating matters is the seemingly higher-than-normal expectations of younger individuals entering the workforce.

"We're also seeing the impact of Gen Y, a technically savvy generation that has grown up in an online and freedom-of-access world," said Paul Kenyon, Avecto's co-founder and chief operating officer. "They often come into the enterprise with the same expectations of access and availability and – in many instances – have the skills and experience to be able to work around basic security protocols to get what they want."

But, simply buying more software tools won't address the real issue. In these scenarios, outsourced IT support is the most effective way to determine each employee's user privileges, prevent problems from popping up and mitigating damage done by ones that do.