Data protection deficit detected in UK corporate laptops

A study has found that a majority of laptops operated by corporations in the UK are not properly secured against data loss, theft or security breaches.

Security firm Check Point gathered data from 130 firms in the public and private sector and it concluded that a total of 52 per cent of laptops remain unencrypted and rife for exploitation by cybercriminals.

This figure is believed to be attributable to the fact that many organisations are pushing for widespread integration of personal devices, including employee laptops and smartphones, into corporate systems.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said that personal devices were used by employees for work matters and 39 per cent asserted that, for the time being, there is no policy for adding to the security of these potentially hazardous additions.

Thirty-seven per cent of UK organisations have banned personal devices from being used for work, while 61 per cent have implemented restrictions on access from unapproved devices.

Check Point’s Nick Lowe explained that the findings of the survey are consistent with similar studies carried out over the preceding three years. This shows that encryption levels are stagnating and many firms are failing to recognise the potential for data loss or infection posed by the use of personal devices.

Mr Lowe implies that there is a discrepancy between the high profile examples of how a lack of encryption can be damaging and the number of businesses and public sector organisations who have actually taken heed of the warnings repeated over the years. He pointed to the data loss suffered by HMRC in 2007 as a case that should have inspired greater investment in encryption, but, as the figures show, has not.

Mr Lowe believes that many IT workers are concerned about the ongoing consumerisation of corporate systems which is progressing at a pace that leaves many exposed following an influx of unsecured personal smartphones and laptops. He thinks an increase in training as well as alterations to policy will allow businesses to tackle these issues and prevent data loss in the future.

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