Smartphone Data Security Lax for Many Workers: iPass Survey

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon might lower costs for IT departments no longer forced to equip employees with the latest smartphones, but a new study suggests it’s placing corporate data at risk—and possibly contributing to employee overwork.

According to the just-released iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report, IT administrators have been more than happy to allow office workers’ smartphones access to corporate systems, but haven’t upgraded their own security apparatus to compensate for the influx of new devices on the network. “Some mobile workers reported not having remote wipe capabilities on their business smartphones or tablets,” the report read. “Only 74 percent said their company required security features on their mobile phones.”

The report drew its data from a survey of mobile workers conducted between July 19 and July 13 of this year. Some 46 percent of the 1,200 respondents came from North America, with another 36 percent from Europe, 13 percent from the Asia-Pacific region, 3 percent from the Middle East, and 1 percent each from Africa and Latin America.

Only 55 percent of mobile workers had remote wipe enabled on their smartphones; some 30 percent said the same about their tablets. A full 76 percent reported having a passcode lock on their smartphone, while 14 percent said they did not; another 41 percent locked down their tablets, while 10 percent did not. (The remaining percentages were for those workers without a smartphone or tablet.)

Nor is that the only potential security breach. While 64 percent of those surveyed suggested they didn’t try to circumvent IT’s policies in order to access corporate data on a smartphone, a full 24 percent reported doing so; those numbers were 35 percent and 12 percent, respectively, for tablet users.

While mobile devices add more flexibility to workers’ lives—very much a good thing, at least for those who face long commutes and heavy schedules—it also increases their workloads, according to the survey: some 15 percent reported working 20 hours more a week because of a flexible work schedule enabled by mobile technology, while a full 27 percent pegged that number at 10 extra hours per week. Only 1 percent reported working 10 hours less per week—the only reported reduction thanks to mobile technology.

As more IT vendors develop apps that deliver loads of highly proprietary corporate data to workers’ smartphones, of course, security becomes paramount. This new report indicates that more than a few companies aren’t meeting that task.

 

Image: David Hammonds/Shutterstock.com

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