Are Employees The Biggest Threat To A Company’s Security?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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A lack of IT policy on devices puts companies in great danger.

Companies are continuing to fail when it comes to regulation of employee usage of business devices with effective IT policies, putting data security at risk.

This is the finding of new research from data recovery specialists, Kroll Ontrack, which highlighted that in the past year, 38 per cent of UK employees downloaded personal files and 29 per cent of employees installed personal apps or programmes on devices, which they also use for work.

Disabling antivirus software

Five per ceangry bossnt of people used P2P file sharing services, such as BitTorrent and Gnutella, the same percentage temporarily disabled firewall/antivirus software and 4 per cent of workers cancelled antivirus scans on these devices.

Kroll Ontrack warns that while many of these activities may seem secure, using P2P file sharing services and installing third-party apps can put a device in the path of dangerous malware or viruses, which may damage or corrupt devices, especially if protective software is disabled or not kept up to date.

This poses a major risk to data security with research highlighting that in the last year, around one in three (32 per cent) devices applied in both personal and work environments corrupted to the point where work information was irrecoverable.

Paul Le Messurier, programme and operations manager at Kroll Ontrack, said: “As the line between work and personal life continues to blur, employees will increasingly conduct personal activities on a device they also work from. This will raise a number of issues for organisations, from data security through to productivity uncertainties.

“As such, businesses must look to protect their assets, both digital and physical. Employers must educate employees on what activities are acceptable; develop a simple, but thorough IT usage policy; and ensure backups are in place and up to date for when disaster does strike.”

The research was carried out by market research firm CM Research, which interviewed 1,151 UK employees on behalf of Kroll Ontrack.

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