The adoption of ever smarter mobile devices and the wide range of digital media and content that can be accessed on them is causing security, management and licensing headaches for IT departments, according to UK IT chiefs.

All 12 of’s CIO Jury IT user panel said the proliferation of 3G mobile phones and PDAs that allow staff to access voice, internet, music and TV services throws up serious content usage and licensing, monitoring, and security challenges for the IT department.

Phil Young, head of IT operations at Amtrak Express Parcels, said: “The new devices not only will cause a security monitoring headache but also may have software licensing impact issues on a business. The ability to ‘lock down’ known systems such as laptops, is well established but securing these devices in the same way is, at best, weak at the moment.”

Whenever users are able to integrate in any way with corporate networks without proper controls there will always be security risks, according to Ian Takats, IT director at Domino’s Pizza.

He said: “The ability of the IT department to deny such access to users will constantly be eroded as consumer devices provide increasingly useful functionality and invade the corporate arena. IT departments must be ready to take control into their own hands if they haven’t already.”

Graham Yellowley, director of technology at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said that as consumer and business devices merge into the single ubiquitous universal device, the likelihood of business information straying into the wrong hands is more likely.

He said: “BlackBerrys with the ability to erase data in case of physical loss provide some protection but most 3G devices and PDAs don’t have such a capability.

“The issue of staff being unproductive while they surf 3G TV is the same issue that was faced with the introduction of internet access in the workplace. This needs line-management to be aware of the potential issue and to deal with it appropriately.”

Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, argued that the convergence of devices and content is not so much a headache as a core responsibility for IT chiefs to get a grip on.

He said: “It is a matter we cannot avoid engaging with. We have to adopt the right management practices, policies and standards. We also have to engage with personal versus business usage. People shouldn’t have to carry multiple devices so those we provide have to be able to cope with both, and costs dealt with equitably.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Neil Bath, IT director, Brewin Dolphin Securities
Chris Broad, head of IS&T, UKAEA
Chris Linfoot, IT director, LDV Vans
Peter Maddigan, associate director IT systems, Budget Insurance
Colin Moore, head of IS, Department for Education and Skills
Simon Norbury, head of ICT, Westminster City Council
Jacques Rene, director of IT and projects, Airclaims
Richard Rundle, IT director, BAA
Richard Steel, head of ICT, London Borough of Newham
Ian Takats, IT director, Domino’s Pizza
Graham Yellowley, director of technology at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International
Phil Young, head of IT operations, Amtrak Express Parcels

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