Mobile security races up CIOs' agenda

The security threat posed by mobile devices and remote working is racing up the CIO agenda according to a major survey published this week.

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The security threat posed by mobile devices and remote working is racing up the CIO agenda according to a major survey published this week.

Keeping on top of viruses, worms and spyware is still the main headache of CIOs, chief information security officers and chief security officers, more than half of them say risks related to mobile technology is up significantly compared to a year ago, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The threats include simple user operating error; unauthorized use or misuse of mobile devices; phishing attacks; and loss or theft of devices and data, the says.

CompTIA commissioned market research firm TNS in early 2008 to conduct the online survey of 2,024 "individuals responsible for information security enforcement in their organizations" in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and China.

"As global trends of workforce mobility and decentralization place a greater strain on IT security infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly more complex for IT departments to safeguard information," says Laurel Chivari, vice president, marketing and communications, CompTIA.

The challenge to IT is compounded by a lack of appropriate security training for users. Though 71 percent of respondents say their organization provides remote access to corporate data and systems to mobile workers, only 39 percent have offered specific security training to those remote staffers, the survey found.

But the number of organizations providing such training does appear to be on the rise: another CompTIA survey from last year found less than a third of organizations holding security training sessions for mobile staff. And 19 percent of respondents in the recent survey say they plan to offer security training in 2008, compared to the 10 percent with such plans from the earlier survey.

The benefits of security training for mobile workers are clear: Ninety-two percent of respondents from organizations that have instituted some form of training for remote workers say they believe the number of major security breaches has been reduced, according to CompTIA.