Today's smartphones may offer more security features than ever but businesses are failing to take advantage of them by allowing users to continue using weak passwords while using their own devices for work purposes, according to one recent industry survey.
The Dimensional Research study, commissioned by identity-management vendor Centrify, surveyed 2249 US workers and found that nearly two-thirds are using their own Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs for work purposes.
Some 65 percent of Macs were being used to access sensitive or regulated customer information, while 58 percent of iPads and 51 percent of iPhones were being used to access business applications that necessarily involve sensitive data.
This was in line with IDC's recent Asia/Pacific Mobile MaturityScape 2014, which found that ANZ businesses were leading the Asia-Pacific region in adoption of enterprise mobility solutions.
Yet despite broad enthusiasm for using the devices to access mission-critical data, the survey suggested that companies were failing to add mobile device management (MDM) solutions that would allow them to enforce security policies that would, for example, allow them to force users to use strong passwords.
Just 28 percent of the users said they had company-provided MDM solutions installed, with 58 percent confessing that there was no software installed to force them to use strong passwords. This, despite the finding that some 51 percent of users were securing their devices with a password that is just a single word or a series of numbers.
Use of such lax security controls may leave businesses in breach of compliance obligations and could easily spawn security issues due to relatively easy access to sensitive corporate data, according to Centrify senior vice president of products and marketing Bill Mann.
The findings “spotlight the massive exposures that occur when devices do not comply with standard corporate security policies,” he said in a statement. “In particular, customer data represents a huge liability. Disclosure of regulated information such as healthcare records could expose corporations to fines and other legal action.
The survey also found that most users were storing data in unencrypted form on their devices, with just 35 percent reporting that their company had enforced the use of Apple's built-in encryption capabilities. Such features are being baked into major mobile platforms, but without requiring their use many devices are still being left exposed.
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