Critical Read

Report reveals feds’ mobile security gaps

smartphones

What: A report by Mobile Work Exchange titled “The 2014 Mobilometer Tracker: Mobility, Security and the Pressure In Between.”

Why: Federal employees measured their mobility security with a tool called the Secure Mobilometer during September, October and November 2013. The report, which reflects 155 individual responses and 30 agency responses, suggests federal employees approach security differently with mobile devices (tablet, smart phones or laptops) than with standard devices such as desktop computers. Eighty-six percent lock their desktop computers when away from them,  86 percent also have a safe alternative workplace, and 78 percent always say they always store files in secure locations.

However, federal employees play more fast and loose with mobile devices. Thirty-one percent of respondents reported using public Wi-Fi and only one-quarter used passwords on mobile devices for work. Six percent of government employees with a mobile device for work said they have lost or misplaced their phones. Extended over the size of a typical federal agency, the report suggests such behavior adds 3,500 extra risks of security breaches. More than 25 percent of federal employees report not receiving mobile security training.

The statistics for federal employees might sound disheartening, but feds fared better than their private-sector counterparts. For example, 60 percent of private-sector respondents have downloaded a non-work related application onto the mobile device they use for work, compared to only 15 percent of federal employees.

Verbatim: “Take Away: 41 percent of government employees need to reevaluate their mobile device security behaviors.

“Just 11 percent of government employees are in the clear. 48 percent are mindful of security, but have some low-risk habits to correct. Unfortunately, that leaves 41 percent in the latter categories who are putting themselves and their agencies at risk.”

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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