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What does the collaborative economy mean for information security?

Ben Rothke CISSP, senior eGRC Consultant with Nettitude, Inc. | March 10, 2015
But what if the dynamic changed such that employees could use corporate and office items for their personal profit? Most firms have never thought about the concept and certainly have no processes in place to deal with it. But that’s something CIO’s and CISO’s should think about in 2015, as the collaborative economy will be changing that dynamic.

Most employers allow their staff reasonable use of office products such as telephones, copy machines, coffee and the like. For the most part, employees won't be using the copy machines to compete with Kinko's or a company car to compete with black car limousine services. Well, at least not until now.

But what if the dynamic changed such that employees could use corporate and office items for their personal profit? Most firms have never thought about the concept and certainly have no processes in place to deal with it. But that's something CIOs and CISOs should think about in 2015, as the collaborative economy will be changing that dynamic.

Additionally, employees and employers can use these same technologies and models to make their own businesses efficient. Imagine your employees efficiently sharing rides, desks, equipment, and remote work locations to be more effective in their jobs. On-demand rides, lower cost Airbnbs and shared co-working spaces all offer opportunity for the progressive employer.

The term collaborative economy has been bandied about a lot lately and means a lot of different things to different people. A collaborative economy is based on the premise that some things are better shared. The collaborative economy where consumers are given the convenience to these shared goods.

Jeremiah Owyang is the founder of Crowd Companies, an early firm in the collaborative economy space. He defines it as "an economic movement where common technologies empower people to get what they need from each other". For example, this includes homes, cars, services, and even money. As a result, the crowd gets what they need from each other, disrupting traditional middlemen and inefficient institutions.

There are a number of definitions, but whichever one you use, the security and privacy issues must be considered. Ignore them and you can place your firm at risk.

So how big is the collaborative economy space? The first version of the Collaborative Economy Honeycomb was organized into six discrete families (goods, services, space, etc.) and 14 sub-classes. Honeycomb 2 now has 12 families, including a hex focused on corporate solutions for employers.

Also, check out the Mesh Directory for a listing of nearly 10,000 collaborative economy startups, and this list is constantly growing.

Finally, it's crucial to realize that the collaborative economy is big. Nearly half a million people use Airbnb daily. Its valuation is $13 billion, almost half that of the nearly century old Hilton Worldwide chain. Uber is valued at over $41 billion, making it larger than most airlines.

The collaborative economy is still in a new and somewhat disruptive phase. It's so new that many cities have no idea how to deal with it. For example, some cities have tried to stop Uber under the premise it is illegal. In some cities, it's against the law to act like a business if you're not one. But what about the single employee?

 

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