Three quarters of IT managers find inappropriate material on employee laptops

Nearly three-quarters of corporate security and IT professionals in the US have found "inappropriate" pictures, videos or browser cache links on employee laptops, according to a new survey.

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Nearly three-quarters of corporate security and IT professionals in the US have found "inappropriate" pictures, videos or browser cache links on employee laptops, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds of the 3,100 IT pros anonymously surveyed by the Ponemon Institute had found "evidence of inappropriate interactions with other employees" of an adult nature on company-issued laptops. A slightly smaller percentage, 63 percent, found resumes and other evidence of job searches.

Larry Ponemon, chairman of the research group behind the study, said the findings pointed to risky behaviour by employees that heightened the potential for data security breaches.

These risks were expected to rise, according to the Web-based survey, which queried IT and security pros from six countries, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Mexico and Brazil.

Those surveyed said that between 23 percent and 33 percent of employees' main devices were currently laptops. In five years, they said, that figure is expected to nearly double, to 55 percent of users in Mexico and as many as 65 percent of users in Germany. Use of laptops in the US is expected to reach 64 percent.

The survey found some interesting, significant cultural differences in how laptops were lost, stolen or otherwise put at risk.

In most countries, losing a laptop in a hotel was the greatest risk. But in Brazil and Mexico, the risk of losing a laptop in a rental car or the airport -- usually the second and third most common locations for loss in the US, France, Germany and the UK -- was practically nonexistent. About half of the IT pros in Brazil and Mexico reported laptops were commonly stolen from users' homes.

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