Handhelds, laptops increase IT security worries, survey finds

The increasing mobility of workers is creating big security headaches for information technology staffers, according to a new report.

Portable devices, especially personal digital assistants and laptop PCs, are the leading concern, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) found in its study, released Nov. 5. Approximately 60 percent of the organizations surveyed said security issues related to the use of handheld devices for data access and transfer have increased during the past 12 months.

In addition, 55 percent of respondents reported rising concern over wireless-network security.

“The increasing pervasiveness of remote access to confidential data and applications by mobile employees, and the implementation of wireless networks, are raising the stakes for corporate IT departments,” said John Venator, president and chief executive officer of CompTIA. “As access extends beyond the four walls of the organization to satellite offices, home-based workers and mobile employees, each remote connection or access point is another potential security vulnerability that must be secured.”

Although 80 percent of the organizations in the survey permit data access by remote or mobile employees, only a third have developed any security awareness training for these workers. Moreover, just 10 percent plan to implement such training in the next 12 months.

“Organizations that do not train their mobile workers in security fundamentals are doing themselves a great disservice,” Venator said. “Nearly 90 percent of organizations that have implemented awareness training for remote and mobile workers believe that the number of security breaches they’ve encountered has been reduced.”

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