UK Financial Sector A Ticking Time Bomb Because Of Bring Your Own Device Practices

Sony has revealed insights from its nationwide VAIO Digital Business 2013 report of UK financial sector businesses, showing a ticking data security time bomb created by bring your own device (BYOD) practices, poor security habits and a rebel workforce.

The findings reveal that more than 1 in 4 (28%) of UK financial services businesses have had a laptop lost or stolen in the last 12 months, and that most laptops (53%) do not have anti-theft security as standard. Encouragingly however, the finance sector is leading the way regarding laptop security best practice - more respondents use file and data encryption and fewer save confidential data on their laptops than other sectors surveyed such as legal, manufacturing and retail.

For firms looking to take advantage of the cost and productivity opportunities of BYOD whilst managing the related threats, the good news is that there are security solutions readily available on laptops right now that require only simple activation. Finance businesses should take advantage of this ready-and-waiting safety net, which can be easily implemented regardless of I.T. infrastructure.

Ruth Storey, VAIO Product Marketing Manager, Sony UK comments: 'It’s great to see the UK finance industry coming out on top when it comes to laptop and data security, but too many businesses still aren’t using the features available to them today. The good news is that features like finger print security access, remote lock down and location tracking are available on many models, including VAIO, right out of the box. Financial directors clearly have a huge role to play in ensuring their businesses take advantage of the opportunities BYOD and remote working present, whilst managing some of the resultant threats'.

The ticking data time bomb

Data security was ranked as very important by 83% of those surveyed, and loss of confidential company data was identified as the number one concern when it comes to lost and stolen laptops. Worryingly however, 78% of people still admitted accessing company data from a personal device, regardless of corporate policy (although this compares favourably with the UK average of 90%). Nearly two thirds (63%) of those surveyed admitted saving confidential business data on their laptops.

Further compounding this problem is that when it comes to laptops, the UK is still a nation of workaholics. Findings revealed that the majority (57%) of people take their work laptop home with them every day, with the train being the number one hotspot for laptop loss and theft, peoples’ homes in second place and taxi’s and pubs in joint third place.

In spite of this, the VAIO Digital Business 2013 report has revealed that finance businesses are not investing enough in securing their data - 43% of businesses surveyed are spending less than £1000 per year on laptop security, demonstrating that financial directors have a major role to play in changing the security culture of their businesses. Less than half (47%) of laptop users in the finance sector reported having anti-theft security as standard, though the sector is still ahead of the pack in this respect with the average figure being just 28%.

The UK’s rebel workers

Whilst BYOD policy is continually evolving, it seems the modern worker might not pay much attention anyway. 78% of people have accessed company data from a personal device (compared to a 90% UK average) with work email access being the primary reason for doing so. Still a worrying statistic, since critical information is most at risk when distributed via email or websites, as these can be forwarded or printed. 46% of people would also quite happily bypass company policy and bring in their own device if frustrated by the device with which they were provided. Those that wouldn’t bring in a personal device aren’t doing so for the sake of company data: The number one reason given was the desire to keep their work and personal devices separate, followed by users not feeling as if they should have to.

Mobile security for a mobile workforce

Despite so many laptops being lost or stolen ‘in transit’, the research revealed users are failing to take advantage of readily available tools. 64% of people surveyed had remote back-up software, allowing them to recover all their data if needed, whilst 62% had some form of data encryption that can render any file unreadable. However, when it comes to adoption of more mobile security measures, such as remote lockdown (31%) and location tracking (16%) they’re just not being used.

What people in the financial sector look for in a business laptop is also a clear reflection of the increasingly mobile approach to work. Users ranked long battery life, rapid boot up and light weight as the top three features they look for in a laptop, with a good range of connectivity options in fourth place. If businesses want staff to follow BYOD policy, it’s a good idea to consider these preferences.

Storey continued: 'Given the ever increasing memory and storage of modern laptops, it is becoming easier and easier for people to carry huge amounts of sensitive financial data around with them. Companies spend a small fortune securing offices and networks, but mobile and remote device security needs to be just as much of a priority, and finance directors are well placed to make the call. This approach would go a long way towards defusing the potential time bomb that the UK finance industry’s missing laptops represent'.

image: © Julikeishon

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