Security fears, cost delay mobile deployments at work

Around 60 percent of businesses are shying away from deploying mobile devices primarily due to security concerns, according to a new survey.

Around 60 percent of businesses are shying away from deploying mobile devices primarily due to security concerns, a new survey says.

Expense and complexity also hampered moves toward mobile computing, according to the survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by security vendor Symantec. Executives at 240 organizations worldwide were interviewed.

One in five organizations said they have sustained financial losses due to attack on mobile data platforms. Businesses also said they rated threats from viruses as the same or greater on mobile devices than on a fixed network.

But only 10 percent of respondents have created a comprehensive security architecture to include mobile devices, the survey said.

"People see that there's a short-term hit in terms of designing a security architecture that caters to these devices but they don't take in the cost of dealing with an incident," said Ollie Whitehouse, a wireless researcher with Symantec.

The rest of the companies either employed no measures for mobile security, allowed mobile access to corporate networks on an ad-hoc basis or were integrating mobile devices into their existing security infrastructure, the survey said.

While formal deployment of devices remains low, employees are increasingly bringing their own devices into organizations and using them on networks, Whitehouse said. Those arrangements also increase the chances for security problems, as those devices may contain company data that could end up lost or stolen, he said.

"The careless employees still pose on the greater risks," Whitehouse said. "Not enough of these enterprises are necessarily implementing device encryption."

While 81 percent of businesses have assessed laptop security, only 26 percent have done the same for smart phones, the survey said.

The deployment of security software to protect mobile data varied by region. Western Europe came out ahead, with 55 percent of respondents using that kind of software, followed by 44 percent in Asia-Pacific and 36 percent in North America.

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Jeremy Kirk

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