Can I get my work emails without IT support?

Discussion in 'iOS / iPhone' started by melmoe, Feb 9, 2010.

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  1. RobbM

    RobbM Big Shot in the Lab

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    You know, I've been reading thru this to see if there was a resolution and the whole time I've had the same question in my head: Why would any institution want to lock down their email access so tight? I'm asking. Maybe HC can answer this.

    I work at a university and we're practically encouraged to use multiple devices to access email. There's webmail and desktop clients and instructions for all sorts of mobile clients, and soon we're going to Exchange. Is it simply because its extremely easy to maintain and service a homogeneous environment? Or are they really afraid that someone is going to use the email to send mash notes or something? Oh, Mrs. Krabappel.....! There is such thing as too much security.

    Or maybe that's it: Here we have people and software keeping tabs on our usage. My machine is portscanned frequently for file sharing, and while music & app downloads from iTunes are OK, if I started DLing movies, I'd get cut off. Maybe at melmoe's school district they can't afford an army of people and software to monitor & maintain the network, so access and usage needs to be tightly controlled.

    Just an idea.
     
  2. Varjak

    Varjak Mobile Deity

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    RobbM, while it seems like a colossal PITA, the reasoning is that some people do stupid things (like send out racist etc. emails under cover of the school system, use email for financial scams, etc.). Some institutions feel that certain disclaimers are adequate, others do not.

    It's a very tough issue; because it's so hard these days to NOT have access to/use of efficient, aggregated email.
     
  3. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    Robbm,

    I'll try to answer, based off how how we run our network. (Just because we run it this way, doesn't mean that others run it this way for the same reasons.)

    We lock our network down, in great part, to reduce the chances of something rogue coming in, and bringing us to our knees. We have a budget so small, that you couldn't even buy a new car with it. Our network is built off of consumer grade networking equipment. We don't have many network monitoring tools available due to this.

    Allowing in a wide array of devices, has the potential to stress our network in ways that we can't see, let alone try to fix. By allowing in only known & trusted devices, we can better understand what traffic we have on our network.

    While we don't enforce this, some businesses may restrict data on personal devices, as they can contain proprietary business information. Once that is on a personal phone, there is no way to regulate who sees it, etc. By throwing out a blanket policy denying certain devices, they effectively reduce the chance of this data being misappropriated.

    If we were to upgrade our exchange server to 2008, and we only had Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, we could effectively wipe any device as soon as it was reported missing. One platform, one operating system to support. As an IT department, I don't want to waste my time trying to support more than one OS.
     
  4. questionfear

    questionfear Google'd.

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    And commenting as an end-user in a heavily regulated corporate environment, the "personal devices and proprietary information" issue is the other big heavyweight in the room, and one of the reasons behind not allowing Outlook Web Access on devices like the iPhone.

    Too many holes, too many ways information can pass without security checkpoints.
     
  5. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    I bet the point on the subject is what HC and QF describe. For one, it's hard to measure what's stressing the traffic on a network, if unsupported or unmentioned devices are added; and somewhere along the line, it goes down to the service that has to be provided, with a given number of priorities, and the budget to keep said service working. And, OTOH, the policies kept by the organization (of the nature it belongs to), about information and its traffic.

    Many of those policies may seem pretty rational, and in other examples may not. However, the end user is gridlocked to a given number of options. And it's better to play by the book. Much of it comes from the notion of "what are you putting (or leaving) in the hands of the end user". When a corporation assigns a cellphone to an employee, it's because the responsibilities for that post and that person justify a condition of mobile comms. Currently, everybody owns and carries a cellphone, so from the outside anybody could ask: "so why does a corporation assigns a cellphone to somebody that already owns one?" The most general reply is: because the corporation makes a mistake in leaving said factor in the hands of the user; meaning, leaving the solution to what the user can support or get. Cause it'd be up to the user to have airtime, and a proper physical device, and and and... Nope, if the job and the goals of the corporation depend on that kind of personal communications, it should be up to the corporation and not the end user, to determine and resolve the resource. And next, come the restrictions for the user to take benefit of that solution.

    That scope usually extends to all the IT subjects. Essentially, any employee in any organization has to do the job with the resources provided inbounds. If you wish to bring along your Leatherman tool, and your cellphone, and your thinking cap, it's up to you, but don't expect to be expected different or lesser results, just because you behaved creative and resolved otherwise, and (as usual) maybe things could not work out fine any given moment (as in tramped email that didn't got sent in time). And you shall not jeopardize the organization's resources or goals just because you wish to do it your way. You just can't jeopardize the organization's trust, inbounds or outbounds.
     
  6. jigwashere

    jigwashere Mobile Deity

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    I work at a bank. I used to be able to sync my Palm and they provided the software. Now they won't even let me use the CD drive and USB port on my PC. The only way I can access my email outside of my work PC is through a secure web portal. At first, this made me mad. I'm not mad about it any more -- it's been a great way to turn off work mode and get into family mode at the end of the day. :)
     
  7. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    Some time ago, I noticed the opposing trends in corporate IT: in some companies, they didn't give a rip whether you used a Palm along with the office computers, they were "just digital planners"; in other companies, they almost made the sign of the Cross when somebody produced a Palm, they were "security breaches". And as you say, Jig, in the bright side, they even provide(d) the software; recently, my boss payed for a Chapura PocketMirror Professional Edition license for my use. OK, I work for a very small company and the assets are easier to watch over, but the point is clear.

    When it's about controlling IT resources, I get the point, sound and clear. But when it's about trust, I usually frown on the subject. Maybe I have a very naive opinion, but if a company doesn't trust you to the point of denying you the use of a PDA indoors their facilities, maybe that company shouldn't have hired you in the first place, or you shouldn't have accepted that job. It's like when somebody is about to get fired, and he's stripped off all privileges beforehand, so he can't retaliate; aha, if you fear retaliation from a laid-off-to-be member of your team, then better check your own deeds. Some time ago, a boss and me weren't getting along in work affairs, even though neither could be blamed for occupational miscarriage; he requested (as in demanded) me to resign, and I did. OK, it was a professional downturn, but I was aware that getting it further would only make things worse. I was properly paid, as if I had been laid off; technically, I wasn't, cause I turned my resigning paper in, beforehand. Anyway, we both discussed our problems and kept on being friends and allies. I was never stripped off my privileges as a technical manager. I think that was a good approach of respect to a person that helped him run the company.

    And right, there's also the other side of the coin. Actually, if you are able to do it, it's better to switch life modes at given hours of the day :) My employer doesn't provide me with a cellphone, though I hold a position of authority and I have personnel under my control. AND I DON'T CARE :)D :D :D), cause I may have received some 10 work-related phone calls in my mobile ever since I got that job. And never received them in afterhours.
     
  8. Green Loontern

    Green Loontern Gustatus similis pullus

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    Another consideration in a commercial organization is the confidentiality of customer information. In many cases, e-mail is the only practical way of employees exchanging customer information. Once those e-mails have a means of getting outside the organization's firewalls, the business faces enormous potential risk.


    OTOH, all it takes to get such rules relaxed, despite IT's misgivings, is for some senior exec to decide he wants to get his company e-mail on his shiny new phone. This is one of the reasons why IT guys often have that haunted look in their eyes...
     
  9. RobbM

    RobbM Big Shot in the Lab

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    Thanks, everyone, for some great info on this issue. I hope melmoe doesn't consider his thread hijacked!

    We have a very robust network here now despite the fact it uses ancient (in computer terms) equipment, and with the upgrades that are going into place now, it should be even better. Although every department's budget has been cut, IT spending is strong here because the value of online education has truly made itself clear.

    Oh, and incidentally, our student email accts are actually outsourced to Microsoft now.
     
  10. hal

    hal itchy and cold feet hal

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    RobbM, I have a good number of friends committed to education (you included :)), and by several reasons (my ex-GF's kids included) I am in touch with a lot of kids in s. high school and college. Thus, I am quite updated about the level of development of many universities here, and several outbounds. The point is, I just can't recall any example in which the users, the IT admins or the teachers say "we are tops in IT". Doesn't matter whether the school is public or private, it always seems that IT is intended to be the spearpoint of the school's mechanics, and it's the last to receive the budget.

    Maybe that's why (I reckon) education is one of the occupational fields in which Linux thrusted as an option... for reasons founded on budget. Linux is lean, the OS is cheap to freeware, lots of apps free as well, and you can run it in old computers. So even the whole system seems to be running on firewood, the people have email, and there's web surfing and etc.

    When I started my university years, I attended a university that had an already strong IT program. But, in times (early 90's) when IT was already considered important but you could find few people to run the dept. and few population to take benefit from it. So the school admins invested in IT with caution, and not always wisely. And a weird (yet common) feature: most of the significant developments in IT were achieved by your favorite geek that took over the computer nobody else knew how to use (a-la-PalmGeek). The latter is not about money, but about curiosity. The Geek Factor :D
     
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