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Employees putting security at risk?

By Donovan Jackson
Wed 9 Jan 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Most businesses go to great lengths and invest heavily in ensuring that confidential documentation and information is protected, both physically and online.

However these days, employees are increasingly bringing their own devices to work. In addition, many companies
are subsidising employees buy their own computer equipment.

This ‘BYOD’ trend present a major challenge to IT departments more accustomed to having greater control over every device on the network.

There are many advantages to BYOD; however, without adequate measures to protect not only mobile devices but also the applications and data they hold, data breaches, device loss and mobile malware are some of the concerns businesses face.

There is also the risk that a device owned by an employee might be used for non-work activity that may expose it to more malware than a device strictly used for business purposes only.

According to this year’s 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report, 39% of online adults in New Zealand, or around 900,000 people, have experienced cybercrime in the past twelve months.

Among the most concerning statistics for employers is that 36% of people admit to sending work related documents to their personal computer.

This, coupled with the rise in threats on social media provides a worrying gateway for cybercriminals looking to access company or client information.

So what steps can businesses take to encourage their employees to take personal responsibility for ensuring their devices are properly protected?

As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure and there are a number of simple steps employees can take to ensure they are not putting personal or professional information at risk:

The first line of defence: password protection.mLoss or theft of a mobile devices happens all too frequently, and people need to take proactive steps to protect their data in the event that their mobile device winds up in the wrong hands.

As many mobile devices provide access to both work and personal email accounts, not having adequate
(or any) password protection can have disastrous consequences.

Yet 44% don’t use complex passwords or change their passwords regularly.

This becomes even more critical when we look at the types of information that people are sharing via email (personal photos at 45%; work related documents at 36%, bank statements at 19% and passwords for other online accounts at 13%).

Protect your email accordingly, by using complex passwords and changing them regularly.

Comprehensive security software

It is essential to invest in comprehensive security software for mobile devices which will protect your privacy and important stuff, prevents strangers from using or accessing data on your device if it is stolen or lost, and detects and eliminates mobile threats.

Social media threats

We are becoming increasing savvy to traditional online threats, however, New Zealanders still have a lot to learn when it comes to the new face of cybercrime and how to protect themselves on social media.

A staggering 77% of people believe that cybercriminals are making social networks their targets.

Despite this, 31% of people don’t log out after each session, while 19% don’t check links before sharing, and 16% have no idea if their settings are public or private.

Businesses strive to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that their systems are as protected as possible.

However, sometimes, the use of personal devices at work evolves before a company can establish best practices.

It is imperative that employees ensure they have comprehensive protection across every device they use at home or at work and businesses need to employ adequate data protection measures and update mobile device usage policies.

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