Data loss through mobile devices emerge a big concern: survey

CIOL Bureau
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SAN FRANCISCO, USA: A new 'Global study on mobility risks' reveals that corporate mobile devices and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon are rapidly circumventing enterprise security and policies.


The research, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by content security provider Websense, Inc., finds that while majority of IT professionals believe using mobile devices was important in achiving business objectives they also believe the devices can put organizations data at risk.

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Seventy-seven percent 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.

But 76 percent also believe that these devices put their organizations at risk–and only 39 percent have the necessary security controls to address the risk. “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.

The survey was designed to help IT security professionals plan for an increasingly mobile workforce.


“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.” 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.

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 threats from malicious or negligent insiders.  To safely permit corporate use of mobile devices, Websense today released its new Websense TRITON Mobile Security solution.


It combines four key components (web security, data security, mobile malware and app protection, and vital mobile device management features) into one solution. As a cloud security service, available anytime anywhere, it prevents confidential data loss on iPads, iPhones, Android, and other mobile devices. More than 4,600 IT and IT security practitioners in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States were surveyed. With an average of 10 years’ experience in the field, fifty-four percent are supervisors (or above) and 42 percent are from organizations with more than 5,000 employees.

This survey defines mobile devices as laptops, USB drives, smartphones, and tablets.

Key findings:


 -          Fifty-nine percent 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 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

-          Seventy-seven percent of respoerge nts agree that the use of mobile devices in the workplace is important to achieving business objectives. A similar percentage (76 percent) believes that these tools put their organizations at risk. Only 39 percent have the necessary security controls to address the risk, and only 45 percent have enforceable policies.


-          Insecure mobile devices increase rates of malware infections. Fifty-nine 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, with another 25 percent unsure.

-          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. Other unacceptable uses include downloading and using internet apps (44 percent) and using personal email accounts (43 percent). Forty-two percent say that downloading confidential data onto devices (USB or Bluetooth) is not acceptable in their organizations.