Data tracking and management lags behind risk on mobiles

Chief information officers are increasingly concerned about the loss of vital company data held on mobile devices, but very few have the systems in place to either control or track that data.

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Chief information officers are increasingly concerned about the loss of vital company data held on mobile devices, but very few have the systems in place to either control or track that data.

Market research company Colman Parkes reported 78% of respondents were concerned about data security yet found 88% of organisations do not track all the information that is kept on mobile devices.

This failure could leave them vulnerable under data protection and other compliance legislation in the event of the loss or theft of mobile devices.

The survey, of 200 CIOs in the UK, US and Europe found that 6% reported that mobile loss or misuse had led to sensitive company data being leaked. In the UK the figure was higher, with 10% of organisations admitted the loss of sensitive data.

More than half of companies questioned said they feared that data leaks will increase over the next five years. Some 68% of companies said one of the major issues is not just the security of the data stored on the device, but the security of device access into corporate networks.

Most also expected the cost of complying with data security regulations would rise in line with the risk. Some 84% of respondents expected that the cost of complying with regulations will increase with the proliferation of mobile devices and their capacity to store more critical data.

Matt Bancroft, vice president of Mformation, which sponsored the research said, “We expected there to be some companies who were still unaware of exactly what data their employees carry on their mobile devices, but to have nine out of ten businesses say they don’t know what is on company devices is incredible.”

It is not just data that is eluding IT departments. The survey revealed that two out of five organisations could not track all the mobile devices they issue to particular employees.

This, combined with the fact that so few organisations know what data mobile devices hold, means that it is nearly impossible to work out what kind of data could have been leaked in the event of a device loss, said Bancroft.

“When you consider that 63% of companies indicate that employees carry sensitive customer data on their mobile devices and 28% indicate that company mobile devices are used to access corporate financial data, this could lead to very serious issues,” continued Bancroft.

“Companies need to be able to manage, track, back up and replace this vital data or they risk not only putting the company at risk but also violating important compliance regulations.”

With over 60,000 phones lost or stolen every month in the UK alone, the number of companies really affected by data loss is likely to be higher.

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