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Data Woes: Execs Fear Passwords, Physical Theft

Businesses overwhelmingly fear that standard security precautions create a false sense of security for laptop and mobile users, according to new research.

According to the Alertsec SMB 2015 Encryption Study, more than two-thirds of executives (68%) believe auto-saved passwords are not secure. Nearly half (48%) of SMB executives believe never logging out of user profiles decreases security, followed by having four- to six-digit passcodes (45%). Over one in five SMB executives (23%) believe lock down (when functionality of the system is restricted) is not secure, while 16% believe that lock ups (when multiple password attempts failed, causing restrictions) are also insecure.

 “The real problem is the false sense of security these ‘security precautions’ create,” said Ebba Blitz, president of Alertsec. “Computer manufacturers and software vendors offer a variety of built-in solutions that seem to protect you, but they are no match for the run-of-the-mill cyber-criminal. That’s why encryption is so important. Losing data could cause a problem of catastrophic proportions for any individual and any company.”

A majority of SMB executives (87%) also admitted they feared data breaches, mainly arising from physical theft. Specifically, 40% of respondents said they fear leaving their laptop in the car; 37% fear having their laptop stolen while working at a coffee shop; 30% fear burglars breaking into their homes and obtaining online banking information; and 27% fear having their laptop stolen at airport security and having their Dropbox and photo files breached.

Most SMB executives (68%) say the problems they have seen at work have made them encrypt their personal computers as well. Respondents said they encrypt because they fear their financial files will be compromised (39%), because data breaches are both very damaging (35%) and very common (29%), and because once you encrypt your work computer, you have to encrypt everything (16%). Only 3% said they encrypt their PC because they fear the government is snooping into their files. 

Most (90%) said work computers should be encrypted, followed by smartphones (61%), personal computers (58%) and tablets (55%). Only 23% felt cars should be encrypted, but this number will likely rise in the near future with the release of smart, self-driving cars. One-third (32%) of those polled do not encrypt their personal computer at all.

A minority of respondents were able to put concerns for their own personal information aside and pretend that they were on the other side of a security breach. When asked whose computer files they would most like to view in such an event, 13% said they would like to see President Obama’s computer files, and 6% said Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg.

A virtuous majority (61%) said they wouldn’t want to see anyone’s private computer files.

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