Mobile workers represent a serious data breach risk to companies

Mobile working can be a great asset to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Cloud services and the proliferation of internet-enabled mobile devices have helped make it a relatively simple matter for employees to get access to company files and systems. They can easily collaborate whether they’re stuck on a train, making an off-site visit or working from home for the day and this helps to improve productivity, flexibility and morale.

Mobile working is not without its risks however. New research carried out by tech-focused market research specialists Vanson Bourne has found that just under a third (29%) of organisations surveyed said they had already suffered a data breach or loss as a direct result of mobile working policies. Nearly half (44%) of respondents said they fully expected mobile workers to increase the risks of a data breach going forward.

Jon Fielding, Managing Director of USB drive manufacturer Apricorn EMEA, who commissioned the survey, said: “Whilst data protection is not a straightforward task, companies (particularly those in the private sector) are trusted by their customers to follow basic best practices. Despite this, 38% say they have no control over where company data goes and where it is stored.

“Organisational struggles with enforcing data protection regulations and compliance standards are putting confidential data at risk. The repercussions associated with a data breach are huge, both in terms of financial and reputation damage. Regulations are put in place to protect the data, its owner and the company responsible for it,” he added.

There’s been a lot of focus on bring your own device (BYOD) practices, but data risks also apply to employees using equipment supplied by their employers.

53% of businesses in the survey said that managing all the technology needed for mobile working was too complicated and more than a third (35%) said that security measures for mobile working were too expensive. Around one in ten said they had no strategy in place to cover removable media such as flash drives, which could present a risk of being lost or stolen.

Worryingly, 57% also said that while mobile workers were willing to follow company rules on security, they simply didn’t have the necessary skills or technology they needed to keep data secure.