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Corporates struggle to secure employee mobile devices

Risks understood but solutions thin on the ground, Check Point finds

The number of employee-owned mobile devices used on corporate networks continues its inexorable rise despite yawning and known gaps in security, a Check Point survey has found.

The questioning of 768 IT executives in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Japan for The Impact of Mobile Devices on Information Security found that two thirds allow the use of personal mobile devices while at work, a marked increase on two years ago.

Complimenting this is a small army of conventionally-managed mobile smartphones and tablets supplied by companies themselves, with the most popular being the ubiquitous Apple iPhone and only slightly less popular BlackBerry.

The security risk inherent in all this comes across in the 71 percent who believe mobile devices have increased security incidents over the last two years with 43 percent naming Android as posing the greatest worry.

Apple was only slightly better regarded with 36 percent seeing it as a risk, all of which underlines that data security anxiety often transcends platform; half of respondents said customer data was stored on mobile devices with staff carelessness rather than hacking or malware posing the biggest risk to its security.

What is clear is that personal mobile devices outnumber managed ones by nearly three to one on some networks, which begs the question of how a company can secure so many devices that don't belong to them.

Added to the fact that few personal mobile devices use encryption, there is plenty of evidence that smartphone users in particular are more susceptible to taking insecure shortcuts to save time on tiny screens.

"The explosion of mobile devices connecting to the corporate network often creates greater opportunities for data loss and increased security management complexity," said Check Point Software's global marketing head, Juliette Sultan.

"We anticipate this trend will continue to rise in 2012, encouraging enterprises to enforce the proper remote access policies to minimise the frequency, risk and costs associated with securing the mobile enterprise," she said.

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