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Europe lacks professional approach to mobile data security.

SafeBoot : 18 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
SafeBoot research reveals that European attitudes to data security on mobile devices is shockingly lax.
According to a recent Gartner report, security professionals need to be more proactive in dealing with threats and that security spending will, for the first time since 2003, slip out of the CIO's 'top ten' spending list. New research by SafeBoot, a leading vendor of enterprise-class security software for the protection of mobile data that resides on mobile and portable devices and computers, suggests that security should go back to the top of the list as European workers have a shockingly lax attitude to corporate data security. SafeBoot's aim - to find out how 'security-savvy' European workers are. The result - they're not!

The survey of nearly 1,300 workers (across the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium) found that a staggering 68 per cent of UK respondents have lost or had their laptop stolen during their careers, compared with just 9 per cent, 19 per cent and 27 per cent for Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium respectively. On average, over half of all respondents admitted that their companies had installed security products on their laptops, but stated that it was either too complicated to use, or they had not received any training on how to properly utilise it (Belgium was the worst region with 98 per cent making this admission).

To highlight just how lax attitudes are, SafeBoot's researchers asked workers whether they would mind letting them look at their laptop/PDA to see what information was on it. They found that Belgian workers are the most trusting, with 36 per cent allowing total strangers to look at their laptops/PDAs. Dutch and UK workers were only marginally better with 30 per cent and 34 per cent respectively saying "yes" to researchers. These figures suggest that Europe's army of workers are walking security hazards and that businesses need to do more to ensure that corporate data is kept secure.

"With 142.9 million workers across the EU (Eurostat), these findings illustrate the true extent of Europe's security crisis and the challenge facing companies and vendors alike," commented Tom de Jongh, product manager at SafeBoot. "We expected to find a few pockets of bad security practices, but these findings make disturbing reading. Businesses must be more proactive in securing sensitive data, and make sure that workers know exactly what to do to protect corporate assets. By the sounds of it, employees are trusted unequivocally and that is naïve. Employers need to wake up and ensure that corporate data is secured properly, for example using encryption technology."

SafeBoot's research was not limited to the working environment. Respondents were also asked about their attitudes to personal ID security (not in Germany). Despite high-profile warnings of phishing attacks and ID theft, 47 per cent of Europeans are not worried about the risks.

This indifference was highlighted further as just over a third admitted that they regularly shred important personal documents, with the remaining two thirds believing that ID theft is "hype" or that, in the unlikely event that they fall victim to an attack, they can get their money back from their bank.

Luckily, most respondents have understood that PIN numbers need to be kept secure. Only 25 per cent of Britons share PIN numbers with friends/family, with Belgium and The Netherlands slightly worse at 30 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

"These findings are worrying. Our survey shows that the security message is starting to sink in, but a lot more work needs to be done. Companies need to make sure that they communicate with workers on a regular basis to ensure that security is taken seriously, and hopefully this will filter through to domestic life," added de Jongh.

SafeBoot's research was carried out across Germany, Belgium, the UK and The Netherlands. 1,279 people were questioned in total.
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