Personal Device Use Mixing With Work on Insecure Networks

Increasingly, mobile devices intended for work purposes are put to use beyond the office and beyond actual work, according to the CompTIA report.

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Employees rely overwhelmingly on desktop computers and smartphones for work (78 percent each), followed closely by laptops (73.5 percent), according to a CompTIA study of 1,200 full-time employees in the United States.

However, the report also found newer technology is quickly making headway, with 54 percent of employees reporting regular tablet use and 20 percent using wearable devices to fulfill work duties.

Increasingly, mobile devices intended for work purposes are put to use beyond the office (and beyond actual work), with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of employees using their employer-issued mobile devices to work from home, and 61 percent using them on-the-go in coffee shops, airports and other public settings.

In addition, 63 percent use their work mobile devices for personal activities, from shopping to using social media to online banking.

"The results aren’t surprising; but rather, a reaffirmation of the work that organizations of all sizes need to do to train their workers on best security practices," Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, told eWEEK. "We’ve known for some time that the person using the PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone is the weakest link in an organization’s security perimeter. In some cases, carelessness is at the root of bad habits."

Thibodeaux explained that in other cases it’s expediency--users may know what they’re doing may be unsecure, but in the interest of getting something done they go ahead anyway.

"But for many others, it comes down to not knowing or understanding the risk they are putting themselves and their employer at," he said.

Not all employees use technology in the same context, however, and IT departments should be prepared to account for differences in workers’ device habits.

Men are more likely to use work devices at home (73 percent) and on the go (68 percent) than women (59 percent and 55 percent), while Millennials (between 21 and 34 years old) are more likely than any other generation to use their devices at home (74 percent), on the go (73.5 percent) and for personal activities (79 percent).

Employees are twice as likely to associate cyber-security with identity theft than with hacks, and only 8 percent connect it with malware.

Nearly 20 percent of workers claim that their personal information has been hacked in the last two years, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Roughly one-third said they have had a device they use for work become infected in the last two years, and Millennials are even more likely to have dealt with a data breach (27 percent) or infected device (42 percent).

However, employees continue to connect their devices to unprotected WiFi networks in spite of the inherent security risks.

Almost all (94 percent) of those surveyed said they connect their laptop or mobile devices to public WiFi networks, and 69 percent of this group handles work-related data while doing so.