Warning: More Security Dangers of Green IT

Warning: More Security Dangers of Green IT

Green IT offers plenty of bottom-line benefits and does good for the environment. But it also carries with it a variety of unforeseen security dangers. If you don't pay attention to them, you could be putting your company at risk.

In my previous blog, I wrote about the possible security dangers posed by virtualization. But there are plenty of potential dangers beyond virtualization. For example, many firms are beginning to look closer at cloud computing as a way of outsourcing various parts of their IT infrastructure. This can help the environment because large data centers that provide cloud services, such as those run by Microsoft and Google, are frequently quite green.

When you outsource services to the cloud, though, it also means that your data lives in the cloud, and that's a big security concern. Are you really sure that your cloud provider will properly protect your data? And it's not just data that's at risk --- what if someone is able to log into the cloud as if he's an employee or IT administrator?

These security concerns related to the cloud are top of mind for many IT pros. IDC, for example, surveyed 244 IT executives, CIOs line-of-business executives about cloud services, and their overwhelmingly biggest concern is security. Some 74.6% said that security was the biggest challenge for outsourcing IT services to the cloud.

Telecommuting has been touted for its green benefits, and it's certainly true that allowing some IT staff to work at home during the week can help. But telecommuting can also impair security. Home networks are typically less secure than work networks, and so someone may pick up an infection at home and spread it through the work network, for example. VPNs must be set up properly, to ensure that data can't be snooped upon as well. In addition, when someone works at home, there isn't the same kind of security infrastructure available, including firewalls and automated malware updates.

Recycling and reusing computer components is a worthy green goal --- but what about the data on old PCs and hard disks? Are you sure that it's been absolutely wiped clean? Even formatting a hard disk doesn't guarantee that the original data on it can't be retrieved.

In short, if you're embarking on a green IT makeover, make sure that a central part of the plan is to enhance security. If not, you can end up with a greener, but more dangerous, IT infrastructure.

Photo composite includes CC-licensed police officer photo by Flickr user officer2975.