Survey: About Half of Organizations Lose Data Through Mobile Devices

San Francisco — Feb. 29

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.

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.

According to a previous Ponemon Institute survey, IT respondents said 63 percent of breaches occurred as a result of mobile devices. Only 28 percent said employee desktop computers were the cause.

The research, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by content security provider Websense Inc., 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 services such as antivirus (AV), firewalls and passwords are not effective at stopping advanced malware and data theft threats from malicious or negligent insiders, the survey said.

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, 54 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 last year, 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 respondents 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 last year 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.

Source: Websense Inc.