Businesses are holding back on deploying mobile devices such as PDAs and smartphones because of concerns over their impact on network security, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit and anti-virus specialist Symantec.
The survey showed that 60% of firms are delaying the introduction of wireless and remote devices, despite the potential business benefits.
“People are being cautious, but it is not sustainable in the longer term,” said Ollie Whitehouse, wireless research scientist at Symantec.
The survey of nearly 250 senior executives found that firms are concerned that the loss or theft of a mobile device would cause greater financial loss than an external hacking attack.
Business leaders said they were worried that wireless networks are more vulnerable than fixed networks to viruses, hacking, and disclosure of sensitive information. Just under 50% had experienced losses because of viruses introduced through wireless networks and 80% said their firm had suffered damage due to the loss or theft of mobile devices.
Despite their worries over mobile security, nearly 90% of companies deal with mobile devices on an ad hoc basis or try to integrate devices into their existing network security, rather than taking an overall approach.
Only 26% had assessed the security risk of smartphones and only 9% had upgraded their security architecture to include mobile device access, the survey reveals.
“We are currently reliant on using security build within the devices themselves, which in many instances is not sufficient in protecting our mobile workforce,” said Benoit Laclau, chief information officer at EDF Energy.
How Volvo Trucks secures its network
Volvo Trucks has imposed strict security controls on its IT network to secure mobile devices used by its workforce.
Staff can only access corporate data using devices issued by the IT department, which are fitted with access management software.
Data in all mobile messages is encrypted, and access is password controlled, said Bjorn Sand, Volvo’s chief information officer.
The approach has been criticised by some staff as being too strict, but Sand said the controls have not had an effect on productivity. The tight controls mean that mobile data security is not a major issue, he said.