One-half of firms losing data through mobile devices: Survey

Many employees disengaging security features
||Last Updated: 03/02/2012

As more companies are incorporating bring your own (BYO) device policies and offering corporate mobile devices, firms are facing increased data security risks, according to a recent survey.

While 77 per cent of more than 4,000 respondents in 12 countries agree that the use of mobile devices in the workplace is important to achieving business objectives, 76 per cent also believe that these devices put their organizations at risk, found Global Study on Mobility Risks by the Ponemon Institute.

And only 39 per cent have the necessary security controls to address the risk while 45 per cent have enforceable policies.

"IT has spent years working on desktop security and trying to prevent data loss over web and email channels — but mobile devices are radically changing the game," said Tom Clare, senior director of product marketing management at the Ponemon Institute. "Tablets and iOS devices are replacing corporate laptops as employees bring their own devices to work and access corporate information. These devices open the door to unprecedented loss of sensitive data. IT needs to be concerned about the data that mobile devices access and not the device itself."

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents report that employees circumvent or disengage security features, such as passwords and key locks, on corporate and personal mobile devices. During the past 12 months, 51 per cent of the organizations surveyed experienced data loss resulting from employee use of unsecure mobile devices, including laptops, smartphones, USB devices and tablets.

Unsecure mobile devices increase rates of malware infections. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said over the past 12 months, their organizations experienced an increase in malware infections as a result of insecure mobile devices in the workplace, with another 25 per cent unsure.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents are most concerned with employees taking photos or videos in the workplace — probably due to fears about the theft or exposure of confidential information. Other unacceptable uses include downloading and using Internet apps (44 per cent) and using personal email accounts (43 per cent).

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