While mobile working is taking off in a big way, a certain group of people are being left to feel a little uneasy at the results of a recent study by Ping Identity, which points very clearly at the approach and procedures businesses have to maintain in order to get the most out of mobile working technology. While the technology certainly helps people to be productive, it also has some issues attached that can stop them from being safe. The safety aspect does not just concern their personal safety, it also includes corporate safety. Data and other fields can now be accessed outside the office, and this could, if not handled properly, lead to all sorts of issues for companies that have sensitive content in the hands of their employees.
In recent years there has been an increase in reported cases of employees leaving their laptops and phones behind in public, and the devices being stolen. At the extreme end this has affected national security, with the Ministry of Defence being a prime example. An employee from the MOD left his laptop behind and it contained data relevant to the safety of the country. While this may not happen on a daily basis, it does happen.
In the case of companies and their mobile workers, employees still carry sensitive data around on their devices. This could be data that has customer records contained in it. Or it could even be a new strategy that can help to improve a company’s level of competitiveness. With the increasing number of smartphones and other devices that can manage large files and complex data, the chances of employees leaving their phones behind on a bus, for example are heightened. And therefore the chances of sensitive data being lost or stolen are heightened too.
The Ping Identity survey threw up at least one big startling fact. The survey found that 37% of the employees they talked to were not asked by their employees to set a password on their mobile device. The implications here are obvious. If companies are not wise enough to understand that they have to have password-locked devices then they almost deserve to have those devices compromised. This problem is thrown in to even sharper relief by another question in the survey that asked if the respondents had ever had their device lost or stolen. An amazing 32% of the surveyed respondents declared that they had lost or had their device stolen in recent times.
Other issues came up. A worrying 16% of respondents had never been given access to any mobile device applications to help with mobile working. This means that the applications were there and available online and run by the companies, but the workers themselves were not allowed to have access.
Mobile working is not going away, and companies and other organisations need to recognise this. If they are to capitalize on this new way of being productive and effective, they need to protect their devices, and ensure that all have access.