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Risk

3/26/2011
11:57 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Shocker! (Not Really): Users Apathetic When It Comes To Mobile Security

Survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute shows just how lax users really are when it comes to securing their smartphone devices.

Survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute shows just how lax users really are when it comes to securing their smartphone devices.The Ponemon Institute released its Smartphone Security Survey: A Study of U.S. Consumers [.pdf], which was sponsored by anti-virus vendor AVG Technologies. The stated goal of the survey was to understand users' perceptions about potential smartphone privacy and security risks. They surveyed 734 smartphone owners over the age of 18.

Here are a few things uncovered in the report:

Most people - 84 percent - use their smartphone for both personal and work.

In addition to using it as a phone, 89 percent use their smartphone for personal email and 82 percent use it for business email.

Forty-two percent of consumers who use social networking apps say they allow smartphone versions of well-known social networking applications such as Facebook to access the same key chains, passwords and log-ins that they use of their desktops, laptops or tablet.

Despite security risks, less than half of consumers use keypad locks or passwords to secure their smartphones.

This highlights the dangers with the consumerization of IT in the enterprise. Not only is the data at jeopardy being stored unencrypted, unprotected on the smartphone - when the employee quits or is terminated from their job they're likely to keep any corporate data on their phone. The risk is exponentially increased when you consider many users are probably using cloud-based storage services (not sanctioned or managed by the business) that they can access from their phone - even after they're terminated or quit.

Situations like this pose a serious challenge to businesses that what to provide some level of device freedom to their employees - but still maintain some semblance of control over data.

If your business is facing similar situations, we'd be interested in learning how you're managing it.

For business and security observations throughout the day, find George on Twitter as @georgevhulme.

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