Telework

Mobile boosts productivity, risk for feds

man on mobile phone

Three-quarters of federal employess use mobile devices for work, according to new survey. (Stock image)

Three out of every four federal employees use mobile devices for work-related tasks an average of nine hours per week, according to a report released Jan. 15 by the Telework Exchange.  That remote access translates into an estimated $28 billion in annual productivity gains, according to the study.

The report, called the 2013 Digital Dilemma, compiled data from 300 federal employees surveyed across numerous federal agencies, indicated that 95 percent of feds believe access to mobile devices improved their work, and that 55 percent bring their own devices to work.

But among the employees using personal smartphones for work-related activities, one in three does not have password protection, highlighting what Telework Exchange general manager Cindy Auten said was a major security concern that must be addressed by agencies. (Forty-two percent or respondents said they store work e-mail and data on their personal mobile devices.)

Resource

Download the report, 2013 Digital Dilemma from the Telework Exchange.

“Back to basics on that,” Auten told FCW, noting that far more respondents said multi-factor authentication and secure remote connections were available for laptops than for other mobile devices. “If you’re using personal devices for work, step one is password protection.”
Auten said mobile security issues facing agencies could be mitigated by good BYOD policies. She said feds want to be intelligent about security – 57 percent of those respondents said they’d consider paying their agency to have their personal device updated or certified as safe – but they’re not getting enough information at the agency level.

However, the survey found that only 11 percent of employees who use personal devices for work said their agencies have a BYOD policy in place.

“BYOD policy is one of the most critical issues this year for the federal government when developing mobility policies and platforms,” Auten said. “There’s a real need for ensuring there is comprehensive and consistent policies across the board, for all agencies. I think what the survey shows is a critical need for agencies to stay ahead so we don’t get into a situation where data is compromised because of this.”

Despite the lack of BYOD policies, Auten said it appears feds are receiving mobile device security training, with 80 percent having reviewed written mobile device security info, 74 percent participating in mobile device security training within the last year and almost 90 percent of respondents stating they “know who to call” if they have a mobile device security question or concern. 

In addition, the survey highlighted the Departments of Veteran Affairs, Agriculture, the Interior, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Defense for “taking the right steps” and getting ahead of the curve regarding mobile device security and policy.

The survey was conducted in November 2012, and was sponsored by EMC, Vmware, Cisco and Carahsoft.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 Beltway Bill

Simple solution - Govt agencies provide free, lightweight MDM services to their employees in return for letting them to limited business on their devices. Its not full BYOD or are all MDM-constraints imposed as on GFE / full-BYOD. We now provide free anti-virus, why not far cheaper MDM services?

Tue, Jan 15, 2013

Interesting report. I don't honestly think people know how to use devices, know the security issues, or even understand that they still need to password protect their iphone, and maybe not download that app. Its an eye opener for IT to know they better act quickly

Tue, Jan 15, 2013

We can bring our mobile device to work, and the policy is "Leave it at the front door or get FIRED". Can't get any clearer than that. Since we work with sensitive information and technology that rule is one way to prevent another path out of the building for the data. Now if only we can get certain countries out of our computer systems.

Modern 'data' devices (can't just call them phones anymore), I wonder if the trend toward more powerful computer systems in those devices makes it more likely they can be remotely controlled to record meetings or collect data like some of the cell phones of days gone by were?

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