Only 35% of PDA users are bound by a company policy

Companies are failing to take even the most basic steps to secure work-related data held on employees' personal digital...

Companies are failing to take even the most basic steps to secure work-related data held on employees' personal digital assistants (PDAs).

An exclusive Computer Weekly survey, conducted by PDA security software supplier Pointsec and Infosecurity Europe, shows that PDA users are carrying sensitive corporate information on the road, but their organisations are taking little or no care to protect it.

Of the 332 IT professionals who regularly use a PDA surveyed, 89% said they used their device as a business diary.

More than one-third admitted using their PDAs to store corporate information; and 46% said they used it to store passwords or Pin numbers.

Yet only 35% of the PDA users questioned said their business had a specific PDA usage policy and 41% of the respondents said they never changed their passwords - with a further 26% only doing so occasionally.

Substantial numbers of respondents also said they carried credit card, social security and Inland Revenue details and information about customers on their PDAs.

As well as the threat of exposure of sensitive corporate information, the survey highlighted the problem of employees using their own PDAs at work, rather than ones provided to them, raising the spectre of unsanctioned software being installed on corporate networks.

Nearly four out of five respondents said they used their own PDAs for work purposes, and 77% said they synchronised the data on their PDA with their company PC or laptop.

Magnus Ahlberg, managing director of Pointsec, said that organisations could no longer afford to ignore PDA security.

"We recommend that organisations take a decision quickly to ban the general usage of private PDAs," he said.

The fact that those polled were IT professionals suggests that the figures could have been even more alarming, had general business users been questioned.

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