Guest access to corporate networks too risky

Allowing guest users access to corporate wireless networks is too much of a risk for IT professionals, according to a new survey.

The poll of 300 IT staff by wireless ISP The Cloud found that 35 per cent of respondents said that allowing business visitors guest access via their corporate networks was an unacceptable security risk.

Other reasons cited for lack of access to guests were; legal liability issues around acting as a service provider (25 per cent), the additional workload generated for IT staff (23 per cent) and breaches of compliance legislation (21 per cent).

The study found that 59 per cent of respondents offer guest internet access by special request only while 21 per cent offer ad hoc access as a matter of routine. The vast majority (80 per cent) recognised there are benefits in allowing guest access to the corporate network. Chief among them are fostering good will with clients and partners (36 per cent), increasing contractor efficiency and thus reducing costs (14 per cent) and increasing staff flexibility (13 per cent).

Mark Simon, managing director of The Cloud's new enterprise WiFi solutions division GuestBridge said the research showed that there was a clear difference between wanting to provide a level of guest access and the pain associated with doing so.

"Companies know it makes good business sense but there are a lot of barriers to overcome," said Simon. "Not only are there concerns around security but IT managers are realising how much of a drain it becomes on resources to manually provision and support guest access on an ad hoc basis."

He said there were uncertainties around liability. "By acting as a service provider, companies become responsible for the traffic across their network. This has implications for both corporate compliance and legal liability," Simon added.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.