New Study Suggests an Abundance of Unsecured Mobile Devices

— March 27, 2012

A new "Global Study on Mobility Risks" strongly suggests that corporate mobile devices and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon are rapidly circumventing enterprise security and policies in Canada. Seventy-one percent of more than 400 respondents in Canada agree that the use of mobile devices in the workplace is important to achieving business objectives. But 72 percent also believe that these devices put their organizations at risk—and only half the organizations surveyed have the necessary security controls to address the risk.
 
According to a previous Ponemon Institute survey, IT respondents said 63 percent of breaches occurred as a result of mobile devices. And only 28 percent said employee desktop computers were the cause. Today's research, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, is designed to help IT security professionals plan for an increasingly mobile workforce.
 
The research shows that organizations often don't know how and what data is leaving their networks through non-secure mobile devices. Traditional static security solutions such as antivirus (AV), firewalls, and passwords are not effective at stopping advanced malware and data theft from malicious or negligent insiders. This survey defines mobile devices as laptops, USB drives, smartphones, and tablets.
 
Key findings include the following:
  • Forty-five percent of respondents report that employees circumvent or disengage security features, such as passwords and key locks, on corporate and personal mobile devices
  • Fifty-eight percent of the organizations in this study experienced data loss resulting from employee use of insecure mobile devices, including laptops, smartphones, USB devices, and tablets. Canada and Italy ranked the highest out of the 12 countries surveyed for mobile data loss 
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents agree that the use of mobile devices in the workplace is important to achieving business objectives. A similar percentage (72 percent) believes that these tools put their organizations at risk. Only half of the organizations have the necessary security controls to address the risk, and only six percent say that all employees are compliant and five percent do not know
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents say that over the past 12 months, their organizations experienced an increase in malware infections as a result of insecure mobile devices in the workplace. Twenty-six percent of respondents say that mobile devices are responsible for an increase of more than 50 percent in malware infections. And, out of the 12 countries surveyed, Canada made the top three for the highest amount of infections
  • Sixty-five percent 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

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