At AusCERT last week one of the speakers mentioned the regular autumn spike in malicious traffic from malware-infested student laptops joining the university network. Apparently this university supports the variety of equipment students inevitably bring to school, because they require or at least expect students to possess computing hardware. The university owns the infrastructure, but the students own the platform. This has been the norm at universities for years.
A week earlier I attended a different session where the "consumerization" of information technology was the subject. I got to meet Greg Shipley from Neohapsis, incidentally -- great guy. This question was asked: if companies don't provide cellphones for employees, why do companies provide laptops? Extend this issue a few years into the future and you see that many of our cellphones will be as powerful as our laptops are now. If you consider the possibility of server-centric, thin client computing, most of the horsepower will need to be elsewhere anyway. Several large companies are already considering the "no company laptop" approach, so what does that mean for digital security?
You must now see the connection. University students are the corporate employees of the near future. If we want to learn some tricks for dealing with employee-owned hardware on company-owned infrastructure manipulating mixed-ownership data (business and personal), consider going back to college. I think we're going to have to focus on Enterprise Rights Management, which is a popular topic. That still won't make a difference if the employee smartphone is 0wned by an intruder who is taking screen captures, unless some form of hardware-enforced Digital Rights Management frustrates this attack. Regardless, I think the next corporate laptop you receive might be your last.