Employees Get a Voice in Business Phones and Gadgets, Despite Security Risks

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Regardless of the presence or absence of security risks, employees in many places now carry lots of clout around choosing which smartphones and other gadgets to use, according to a spate of new research.

Information technology (IT) departments still dominate decisions involving traditional desktop PCs. Yet users are wielding much more influence over choices of smartphones, tablets, and notebooks, say results of a survey of 400 IT managers conducted by IDG Research.

Around 66% of respondents said users at their companies are either “making or involved in” decisions around smartphones. Another 52% said the same about netbooks, and 51% about tablets, according to the report, which was commissioned by RSA, the Security Division of EMC.

“Companies are starting to recognize that users will continue to invest in their own mobile devices, regardless of what is issued to them,” noted Michael A. Cuthwaite, CIO for Elysian Group Inc.

Few Incidents, but Security Managers Fret
Still, security managers worry. In another survey, done among security pros for the RSA Conference, 93% answered “Yes” when asked whether allowing employees to connect personal mobile devices to the corporate network poses a security threat. However, less than 2% reported a “serious incident” resulting from an employee’s use of a mobile device.

On the other hand, other research suggests that many employees either don’t abide by company security policies or aren’t aware of them. A third survey, conducted by IDC and commissioned by Unisys, found that 96% of employees in the country of New Zealand are using at least one self-purchased device at work.

Employees are bringing in their own phones, netbooks, digital cameras, and video, music, and GPS gadgets, according to an account in the New Zealand Herald.

A total of 53% of the employees in the survey said they could attach personal devices to their workplace networks, whereas only 45% of employers said this was allowable.

Also, 37% of employees said that they thought downloading audio files not related to work was acceptable, but only 25% of employers said this was permissible by their company.




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