CIO Pain points: Improving data security for mobile devices

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Businesses are very concerned about the need to protect their data, yet more than half have a long way to go to minimising the risks to their corporate security, in particular on mobile devices.

Businesses are extremely concerned about the need to protect their data and nearly half believe they have the right systems and processes in place to meet the high standard of security required.

Having said that, 53% of European multi-nationals still have some wayto go in minimising the risks to their corporate security, as they are currently unable to remotely erase data stored on a lost or stolen device.

This was one of the main findings of a major survey of European enterprise businesses undertaken by Circle Research on behalf of Vodafone Global Enterprise.

Overall, 53% of respondents felt that their organisations needed to do more in taking necessary corrective action to protect valuable data assets.

At an individual country level, UK-based firms were best-prepared here, with 53% confident that they had successfully addressed this potential security weakness, whereas German multi-nationals appeared to be somewhat more vulnerable, with 59% as yet unable to delete sensitive data.

Security concerns have been identified as the biggest obstacle to the widespread adoption of wireless and remote computing in businesses worldwide today. Yet the good news is that all these challenges can be addressed with solutions that are both comprehensive and affordable. Essential multiple security policy controls are now available, for example, covering all key aspects of network security, mobile devices, supporting IT systems and infrastructure, personnel and processes.

Lack of visibility

Though they had some way to go to achieve the necessary level of transparency and control, the issue of network and data security remains one of senior management’s biggest challenges, with the majority (51%) confirming that combating security threats was a high priority for their organisation.

As part of this, the two most significant issues were identified as managing the use of mobile devices on insecure networks and dealing with unauthorised data access through lost or stolen devices, both cited by 34% of respondents as key goals.

Despite this, 66% of telecoms managers across Europe believed that their business needed to improve the robustness of their security measures and ensure systems were in place to protect sensitive data stored on the device. Nearly one in ten (9%) expressed more serious doubts, believing that there were likely to be serious gaps in their security measures.

However, the good news for these businesses is that best practice solutions now exist which can provide the security required, by offering a consolidated, centralised view of mobile and fixed spend from one supplier.

The survey also highlighted some other bright spots as businesses look to improve their data security. For example, the advent of newer technologies appears to be helping here, with fewer than one in four respondents (22%) registering any fears around Smartphone viruses, for example.

Seizing back control

The area of device management also pinpointed the need to further improve visibility and control. When asked how well multi-national organisations were able to monitor the status of mobile devices across the enterprise, nearly half (44%) knew how many had been issued but were unaware of how many were now dormant. In only 4% of cases, was business unsure precisely how many had been issued and were in use.

The Netherlands evidenced the best grasp here, with 65% of firms confirming they had full control of their portfolio. The UK, by contrast, lagged a little way behind, where only 46% of multi-national businesses expressed a similar level of confidence.

In an increasingly flexible working environment, mobility should sit at the very heart of good security practice. In responding to this, arrange of best practice tools and technologies are now available that both enables managers to exercise full control over erasing data if devices go missing and, more broadly, benefit from constant updates on the state of every mobile device on the network.