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Most smartphone users breach employers’ security, says survey

Employees' mobile devices a major safety risk for companies

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More than half of mobile device users access their employer's networks every day without permission, a survey has found. More than 80 per cent of users of mobile devices, whose security is not controlled by a company, say they have accessed work information.

Network systems company Juniper Networks surveyed 6,000 mobile device users and found that the use of smartphones and tablet computers poses a potentially major security risk to corporate information.

Consumer-focused devices are often far more poorly protected than laptops or secure email devices that have been designed and configured by a company's own IT department. The survey found that, despite citing information security as a major concern, device owners are using the machines to bypass corporate data protection measures.

"Almost 44 per cent of respondents use their devices for both personal and business purposes," said a Juniper statement. "Eighty-one per cent admit using their devices to access their employer's network without their employer's knowledge or permission and 58 per cent do so every single day."

Those users are not unaware of the dangers of using sophisticated mobile devices; 64 per cent of them are very or extremely concerned about the possibility of identity theft when a device is stolen or lost, according to the survey.

Despite these concerns, owners of smartphones and tablets used them for a wide variety of purposes that would make it easier for thieves to access valuable information.

"More than 76 per cent of consumers surveyed use their smartphones or tablets to access sensitive personal or business information," said the Juniper statement. "Fifty-one per cent [used them] to enter or modify passwords; 43 per cent to access banking or credit card statements; 30 per cent to access utility bills; 20 per cent to share financial information such as credit card numbers; 18 per cent to access employer's proprietary information; 17 per cent to access medical records; and 16 per cent to share social security numbers."

"Smartphones and tablets have become the new onramp for information, applications and commerce, yet they are quickly becoming an onramp for security threats as well," said Mark Bauhaus of Juniper Networks. "Fortunately, users are growing very aware of the security, identity and privacy issues involved. Now the industry needs to step up and make security an integrated part of the mobile experience, not an optional afterthought."

Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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