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Businesses not well prepared to protect data on mobile devices

Warwick Ashford

Theft, removal or loss of information and disclosure of private or confidential information are the top information security threats facing organisations, a survey has revealed.

Applications, endpoints and mobile devices are the top areas that require security, the poll by Ponemon Institute of over 400 IT managers in the UK shows.

But, while the management of desktop PCs and laptops is fairly well established, most UK businesses do not have the necessary systems in place for smartphones, according to study sponsors Vodafone and F-Secure.

Almost two-thirds of IT managers polled did not agree that the security of mobile devices and communications is a high priority in their organisations.

Basic testing of handhelds and systems before deployment is not as robust as that commonly used for PCs and laptops, said Neil Sawyer, head of corporate segment marketing at Vodafone UK.

"Businesses should be testing smartphones before deployment and investing in software and services to ensure the same protection as PCs and laptops," he said.

With malicious attacks doubling in number in the past 12 months, organisations need to step up their protection strategies, because prevention is better than cure, said Tom Gaffney, security advisor at F-Secure.

"Many organisations are still not taking the threat seriously enough, especially considering Ponemon found that data breaches cost UK business an average of £64 per record or £1.7m per incident," he said.

According to Sawyer, other studies have revealed that in some companies more than half the employees are using corporate SIM cards in smartphones they have bought themselves.

An increasing number of UK companies are using smartphones to meet legal requirements to provide flexible and mobile working.

As the number of smartphone users in business increases, so too will the number of attacks and potential data breaches, said Sawyer.

To meet this and other security challenges, Vodafone has developed in partnership with F-Secure and other suppliers a cross-platform, multi-endpoint security management service, he said.

For mobile security, Ponemon survey respondents rated anti-virus, anti-malware, data loss prevention, encryption and wireless security technologies as providing the highest return on prevention, an alternative metric to ROI.

In August, the BCC said an automatic encryption system prevented the disclosure of personal information stored on smartphones and laptops worth more than £240,000 which were lost or stolen in the past two years.


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