Personal Information on Enterprise Devices Carries Security Risks

When it comes to stashing enterprise content on personal mobile devices, office workers aged 18-24 are the most likely culprits.

There is a growing potential for security risks resulting from increasingly blurred lines between personal and enterprise devices, according to a nationwide survey of 2,000 office workers carried out for enterprise content collaboration specialist Huddle by Ipsos Mori.

The survey revealed that 73 percent of U.S. office workers using enterprise-issued tablets admitted to downloading personal software and applications onto them, and almost two-thirds (62 percent) said they do the same on company-issued smartphones, and 45 percent on enterprise-issued notebooks.

While the majority of the 44 percent of office workers using company-issued devices download personal software such as iTunes, Spotify and Dropbox, 52 percent admitted to storing, sharing and working on work documents through their personal smartphones, tablets and notebooks.

"The meteoric rise of the cloud and mobile devices–whether personal or company property–in the workplace, along with people’s expectations that they should be able to work from any location, at any time, means it’s no longer possible to keep all corporate data on company premises," Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell said in a statement. "The post-PC era is well and truly here."

According to the study, office workers between the age groups of 25-31 and 32-38 are the worst offenders for downloading personal apps and software on company-issued devices.

While 23 percent of office workers surveyed said they are aware of their organization’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, the study reveals that personal devices are coexisting with enterprise-issued gadgets in the workplace rather than replacing them.

"With IT groups no longer identifying and provisioning the best technology for business, their challenge is to effectively manage the mixture of enterprise and personal devices and applications present in their organization," Jim Lundy, CEO and lead analyst of Aragon Research, said in a statement. "Personal productivity tools are rapidly advancing so businesses need to let workers maximize their own capabilities, while protecting enterprise data and systems."

According to the office workers surveyed, 37 percent store work documents on their personal notebook, 12 percent store enterprise documents on their smartphone and 8 percent store company documents on their personal tablets.

When it comes to stashing enterprise content on personal laptops, tablets and smartphones, office workers ages 18-24 years old are the most likely culprits, with more than half (51 percent) keeping work documents on personal notebooks.

"Organizations now need to consider how they stop company data walking out of the door with people and what measures need to be put in place to ensure teams can get their jobs done without compromising security," Mitchell said. "Providing teams with enterprise-grade apps that support collaboration on the move, as well as being simple to use, will help ensure they don’t start using consumer tools to provide easier ways to access the information they need. These apps should come with granular permission, encryption in transit and at rest, and remote wipe capabilities."