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In most businesses and large organizations, it is important that information systems extend throughout the institution, both vertically and horizontally. The potential for errors resulting from an inability of one branch, department or office within an organization to communicate effectively with another has always been high, and the larger the organization, the greater the premium that is placed on an efficient information system. Within the business world, each department or office, to the extent that the fruit of its labor fits into a larger product (in other words, each sector within the organization produces a component part of a larger item that is integrated in the final stages), then the importance of information being shared across division lines is vital. Failure to ensure an integrated process characterized by commonality with respect to information technologies almost always results in miscommunications that adversely impact organizational efficiency.
The requirement for common information systems to extend throughout an organization has proven important in business, government, medicine, and virtually every sector of economic activity. There are times, however, when so-called “firewalls” need to be maintained separating access to information within a particular organization. The requirement to protect sensitive or proprietary information, for example, often entails the installation of barriers within an organization’s information system that preclude noncleared employees from accessing that information. In other words, passwords are distributed on a “need-to-know” basis with access to greater levels of information available as one moves up the organizational hierarchy. This requirement has gained much greater importance in government and among the enormous number of contractors that exist to supplement the government in the wake of disclosures that individuals – specifically, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – were able to access a wealth of information that extended well-beyond their “need-to-know,” and which resulted in the wide-spread dissemination of millions of pages of classified documents.
Similarly, medical facilities have a valid requirement for open information systems that extend throughout the organization, yet which can be exploited for criminal or other inappropriate purposes. The greater the number of people with unfettered access to an organization-wide data base or communication system, the greater the potential for abuse by a single disgruntled employee or by an outside hacker.
The flip side to the beneficial aspect of information systems that extend throughout an organization is the potential for abuse. That is a risk that each individual organizational head has to consider when installing information systems designed to enable the entirety of the organization to access all available information whenever disparate employees or offices deem it necessary.
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