Civil servants ignore infosecurity policies, survey says


Civil servants ignore infosecurity policies, survey says

Ian Grant

Nearly eight out of 10 public sector employees ignore information security policies and indulge in insecure behaviour, according to a survey of IT and information security managers in 1,000 large and medium firms in the public sector, finance, law, manufacturing and media sectors.

The research, conducted by SafeBoot, a supplier of mobile data encryption technology, was done before a spate of revelations of data leakage headed by the HMRC's loss in the post of personal and banking details of 25 million child benefit recipients.

Overall, the research showed 59% of firms spent less than 10% of their IT budgets on security, even though 82% (88% of public sector firms) had a security policy. Most firms communicated the policy using memos (34%) and e-mail (29%).

Some 54% of respondents said at least half of their employees ignored the firm's security policy. But this rose to 79% for public sector staff.

Staff who ignore the policy (39%) do so because they do not take it seriously. One in five is ignorant of the threat posed by data leakage however, this rises to 51% for public sector staff.

Public sector staff scored worse that private sector staff in nearly every category of unsafe behaviour. Nearly nine of 10 would open unknown e-mails compared with seven out of 10 on average. Three-quarters would connect an external device such as an iPod or digital camera to their work PCs, and 71% would download company data. Nearly six of ten used unencrypted USB memory devices, and 35% transported data unencrypted on mobile devices.

Survey results

In your opinion what percentage of employees ignore your security policy?

% Response           Overall    Finance   Public Sector   Legal   Manufacturing   Media

10 - 25 per cent       19          37           3                     44           5                    6

25 - 50 per cent       27          14           18                   32            32                 39

50 - 75 per cent       38          32           56                   18            48                 36

75 - 100 per cent     16          17            23                   6             15                 19

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