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Emerging mobile culture threatening UK businesses

The rapid emergence of a mobile culture is leaving British businesses vulnerable to security breaches, reveals a new report published by ITogether, a network and security specialist.

More than half (59 percent) of those surveyed use their own personal mobile devices such as Android phones and iPads for work, with 61 percent connecting them to their employer’s IT systems. There is widespread failure to comply with organizational security policies, leaving work systems vulnerable to cyber attacks and security breaches. Despite this, 50 percent of workers still expect to have full unfettered access to all their personal online accounts and social networking sites throughout their working day.

“What we’re seeing is a widespread ‘mob’ culture that’s building up in the workplace as people’s personal and work lives merge through technology,” comments ITogether’s co-founder and managing partner, Simon Richardson. “Workers expect their employer to foot the bandwidth costs for their personal devices, enabling them to do online banking, or access Facebook, for example, but flatly refuse to conform to their work security measures. This behaviour is exasperating business owners and senior management. We all love our devices but, especially given the spate of recent high profile security breaches, everyone, not just IT managers need to take this issue seriously.”

But there are also reasons for businesses to be cheerful. The research reveals that equipping workers with the latest smart devices improves motivation (88 percent agree), makes employees feel valued (84 percent agree) and increases company loyalty (65 percent agree).

UK businesses are increasingly reliant on platforms such as twitter and LinkedIn to improve business efficiencies and strengthen communication, so business owners will welcome the news that 70 percent of current workers admitted to using their own devices to keep in touch with work outside of office hours, meaning they are more likely to maintain focus on their jobs from one day to the next.

Simon Richardson said: “During the last few years we’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of people using social media, and it is now a fixture of our everyday work and personal lives. Today, social networks connect people to the world around them and employees expect to be able to access their personal online accounts in the workplace. What is alarming is that, despite this, few companies have established formal processes for handling social networking tools in the workplace. Even fewer have expanded this to mobile workers, or personal devices, compromising any previous investment that they may have made to secure their network or corporate image.

“Banning the use of social media or access to personal online accounts in the workplace seems like an archaic approach and one that could compromise productivity, especially as 70 percent of people use their mobile devices to keep in touch with work outside of the office. The good news is that as a result of ever developing technologies there are a range of solutions available to help businesses safeguard themselves against security threats, from deploying cloud-based web firewalls to installing a ‘dirty’ network.”

The report, commissioned by ITogether this month, surveyed 1,000 employees across corporate organizations, SMEs and start-ups UK-wide, asking them how about their personal use of IT in the workplace.


•Date: 5th August 2011 • Region: UK •Type: Article • Topic: ISM

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