Businesses Prioritise Social Distractions Over Security

Businesses prioritise controlling access to social networks and limiting distractions, whilst ignoring the real threat from unsecured personal devices 

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Marlow, UK – 19 January, 2011 – Businesses prioritise blocking staff from accessing social networks and instant messaging, over securing mobile devices that have the potential to put company data at risk, according to research findings published by Trend Micro, a global leader in Internet security solutions.

The research finds that, in the wake of the growth of IT consumerization, where employees’ own personal devices are used for work purposes, the balance between productivity and security seems to be severely out of kilter - a clear indication that current usage policies are focusing in the wrong area.

Businesses underestimate the risks of some applications, while overestimating the risks of others. 83% of businesses surveyed would allow employees to use mobile devices to access email, 54% would allow access to company intranet and 11% would allow access to corporate strategy and planning documents. However, only 10% of businesses would allow employees to access mobile games. This preoccupation with restricting access to distractions, such as gaming or social media, belies the real dangers of enabling people to access sensitive data on devices which are all too often inadequately protected or managed.

Despite widespread concern about the use of personal devices in the work place, 70% of those surveyed report that their organisation allows employees to access a range of information on the company network via personal devices. However the same amount of respondents state that their employer does not take responsibility for managing the security of those devices, leaving these businesses open to serious risk.

In the survey of over 2,000 office workers across Europe, nearly half of employers (47%) allow employees to use personal devices for work purposes. Personal devices with the potential to put company data at risk –laptops (76%), tablets (30%), and smartphones (57%) – are the most commonly used in the workplace. Consumerization is clearly being embraced, with results showing that 72% of companies have personal technology policies in place, however 25% of those businesses believe that employees within their organisation do not adhere to that policy.

Cesare Garlati, Director of Consumerization, Trend Micro said: “Companies need to wise up to the different threat levels of an employee wasting time on social media sites vs. an employee losing an entire new business pipeline, or exposing the soft underbelly of the organisation’s business systems, by leaving their mobile device in a pub or on a train. There’s also a significant level of ambiguity when it comes to who is responsible for managing the security of personal devices.”

Garlati continues, “There is no doubt that consumerization in the workplace has truly arrived. However this shift in technology use within the workplace is largely happening outside of IT departments’ jurisdiction, with 39% of respondents to our survey agreeing that the growth of employees using their personal devices for work related activities is rapid and unplanned. Those responsible for managing IT within a business must adopt a three-pronged approach to security; know the risks, work proactively and think strategically. Employees don’t ask the IT department’s permission to use a device any more – they just go ahead and use it.”

When asked about the biggest concerns surrounding consumerization, 59% of respondents perceived the risk of loss or theft of corporate data to be their primary concern, followed by personal privacy issues (40%) and the mingling of personal and corporate data (38%). Interestingly, only 14% of those surveyed claim to have no concerns about the use of personal devices in the workplace, confirming that both employers and employees are keen to develop a security strategy to control the increasing consumerization of businesses.

Trend Micro’s global research project involved 2,245 office workers from across Europe and aims to identify what is driving the consumerization of workplace technology, what its impact will be, and who is responsible for ensuring employees, devices and data remain secure.


About Trend Micro
Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704), a global leader in security software, strives to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our solutions for consumers, Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ provide layered content security to protect information on mobile devices, endpoints, gateways, servers and the cloud. Trend Micro enables the smart protection of information, with innovative security technology that is simple to deploy and manage, and fits an evolving ecosystem. Leveraging these solutions, organizations can protect their end users, their evolving data center and cloud resources, and their information threatened by sophisticated targeted attacks.

All of solutions are powered by cloud-based global threat intelligence, the Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™, and are supported by over 1,200 threat experts around the globe.

For more information, visit www.trendmicro.com/en_gb/. Or follow our news on Twitter at @TrendMicroUK.