Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of consumers in the United States text for work purposes, according to a survey of 500 U.S. consumers conducted by uSamp and sponsored by secure messaging specialist TigerText.
Most text messages are sent to colleagues, followed by customers, partners and vendors. The messages typically relate to general and day-to-day work activities, the study found.
"When employees use unsecure messaging tools, they’re opening up their business for risks that can cause a significant amount of damage. Take the recent Sony breach for example," Brad Brooks, CEO of TigerText, told eWEEK. "Not only did the hackers release confidential corporate information, but they used private electronic conversations that generally require context and an intimate understanding of persons involved to damage individuals’ reputations as well as the reputation of Sony itself."
Brooks added that insecure messaging could also cost organizations millions of dollars in damages in the event of a breach, especially in highly- regulated industries like health care and finance.
The survey found that 72 percent of the respondents use their own mobile device for work purposes, suggesting further growth of bring your own device (BYOD) programs in everyday work environments.
Adding together the 44 percent of consumers who use SMS for work purposes and the e 13 percent who admitted to using consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger, TigerText arrived at a total of 57 percent of respondents who are texting about work information –some of it confidential -- through insecure channels.
Alternatively, only six percent said they use messaging apps that were designed specifically for work.
Overall, a majority of active employees (63 percent) stated that security is a concern when choosing the tools they use to communicate.
"Now that BYOD has made its way into virtually every industry, text messaging is a more prevalent form of workplace communication. The problem is, standard SMS and consumer messaging apps don’t offer the level of security and control that most businesses require," Brooks said.
He added that in order to effectively adapt to the habits of today’s mobile-first consumers in a BYOD environment, companies need to implement communications tools that offer encryption and ephemerality.
The survey also found 64 percent of respondents selected email as the most secure communications tool. At the same time, 66 percent of respondents said they do not think texting is a security risk for their organization.
After email at 70 percent, text messaging is the second most common tool people turn to when sharing work information.
"Messaging solutions like SMS and email aren’t secure, and many of the recent high-profile security breaches have demonstrated that there is a need to disrupt traditional communication channels," Brooks said. "Although tools like email are critical for business, the message lifespan sets companies up for security risks that, as we saw in the case of Sony, go far beyond data."