Are Mobile Employees a Threat to Your Company Security?

Today's workforce is mobile, and these days, it's becoming more and more common for employees take the office with them wherever they go.

But, does more mobility mean less security? Do mobile workers increase the threat of a data breach at your company?

As you might expect, the answer to both of those questions is "yes."New survey results reveal that two-thirds of employees expose sensitive data outside the workplace some even exposing highly regulated and confidential information such as customer credit card and social security numbers. As many as two-thirds (67 percent) of those polled said they had worked with some type of sensitive data outside the trusted confines of the office within the past year, including highly sensitive information such as customer credit card numbers (26 percent), customer social security numbers (24 percent), patient medical information (15 percent) and internal corporate financial information (42 percent).

The Visual Data Breach Risk Assessment Study, conducted by People Security and commissioned by 3M, also found the majority of companies do not have basic policies or measures in place to protect sensitive information from computer screen snooping when employees are working in public places.

Here are a few more findings that I found particularly interesting:

The threat of a visual data breach is growing. More than half (55 percent) of working professionals surveyed worked on their laptop in a high-traffic public area at least one hour per week. Many of these workers will access corporate email/data in public areas through laptops and smart phones, putting that data at risk for exposure. Now that camera phones are becoming ubiquitous, the threat from working in public is magnified. Most cell phone users have the ability to capture images, including screens shots, further increasing the risk of visual data breaches.


Significant gap exists between risk and corporate policy/tools to prevent visual data breaches. There is a basic expectation that companies will keep sensitive information secure at all times. However, 70 percent of working professionals surveyed said their company had no explicit policy on working in public places and 79 percent reported no company policy on the use of privacy filters to prevent visual data breaches.


Protection against visual data breaches last to be addressed by corporations. Data security practices such as VPN access (46 percent), disk encryption software (38 percent) two-factor authentication (19 percent) were all more commonly used to protect against breaches compared to the use of privacy filters (13 percent).


Opportunity to increase productivity when privacy-concerned employees work outside the office with stronger privacy protection measures in place. More than half (57 percent) of those polled said they have stopped working on their laptops because of privacy concerns in a public place, and 70 percent said they would be more productive in public places if they thought no one else could see their screen.

TAGS: Finance
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