Remote Working Policies Causing Data Breach Risk

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Organizations are putting their data at risk due to inadequate remote working policies and a lack of employee awareness, claims new research from data storage and information security company, Imation.

The report, Data security on the move, surveys 1000 UK and German workers from a variety of industries, and reveals that 44% of respondents always take data out of the office unencrypted, with 46% storing personal and work files on the same device or in the same cloud.

Almost one in ten respondents do not secure work files taken away from the office at all, with only 70% password-protecting business data. Nearly two in five surveyed have either personally lost or had stolen a device in public, or know of someone who has. In over a third of cases these devices contained confidential work files or emails.

“Companies may not be aware of the amount of data that’s leaving offices unsecured,” said Nick Banks, VP EMEA and APAC of Imation’s IronKey Solutions. “Data protection is a huge concern for employers who are battling to manage security and privacy for employees on the move.”

The survey also reveals that reading and writing business emails from a personal smartphone (34%) or work-provided smartphone (22%) is common practice. Over two-fifths will do so in any public place, with nearly a quarter admitting to either looking over a mobile user’s shoulder in public, or noticing this happening to them.

Regarding their companies’ remote working policies, 16% of workers don’t know if their company has a policy, and 41% feel tools provided fall short of requirements. Over a quarter claim to have broken a policy either knowingly or unknowingly.

“The survey really highlights that there is still a disconnect. Workers feel their companies could do better, either in education or having multiple sets of rules,” Banks told Infosecurity.

“I believe the number of people working remotely will continue to increase, as will the number of people having the flexibility to do that. What needs to catch up with this is companies’ ability to make sure their workers are working securely, with the correct policies and tools in place.”

The report comes at a time where concern over BYOD and remote-working policies is growing.

BT reported that two-fifths of UK firms suffered a mobile data breach last year, while Check Point’s recent global research discovered that around half of surveyed firms had suffered a mobile-related breach costing over $250,000.

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