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Staff Christmas parties leave companies open to corporate espionage and data breaches, says Sts Digital


By The Drum Team, Editorial

December 22, 2011 | 3 min read

Sts Digital MD David Coleman has warned that staff Christmas parties can leave companies open to the risk of corporate espionage, data breaches and theft due to a lack of care over the security of smart phones and tablet computers.

He said that these staff nights out could cost the British economy millions, with a recent market research study finding that thousands of workers will hit the UK’s pubs and restaurants this week carrying gadgets which are capable of accessing sensitive commercial information.

Commissioned by Sts Digital, a recent market research study carried out in city centre bars and public houses at peak post-work times, found that of those employees who had been given a mobile device, a massive 98% had brought the device into the bar and when asked about access to corporate data and sensitive information, 98% of respondents were able to access corporate information using the mobile device. 91% of those questioned could access all corporate data including documents, contracts, emails and sensitive information regardless of location using the mobile device.

The research also found that 52% were unaware of any policies which detailed the regulations regarding the use of business-owned mobile devices outside the workplace, or the procedures which should be adhered to in the event of loss or theft of a mobile device.

Coleman said: “Businesses are at an evolutionary juncture. We’re living in an age whereby mobile devices are increasingly being used as valuable tools for productivity and performance, however at the same time, ever increasing is the threat of security breaches, loss of data, or IP becoming compromised. It’s baffling to me that businesses would have such effective IT policies within the workplace, only to fail to manage the use of business mobile devices carried by employees outside the workplace.

“The study shows perfectly the extent of the risks to a business’ corporate data which are challenged by a typical Christmas Night Out. Employees all over the UK are heading out straight from the workplace over the festive season to enjoy themselves and celebrate the year and they are taking their company mobile device with them. All it takes is one employee’s smartphone to be lost, and instantly the business is liable for anything from a breach of an NDA, the terms of a contract, or even the IP of a client being compromised.

“Businesses are failing to address the risks of mobile device usage by employees outside the workplace and there needs to be a real shift from the reactive to the proactive - businesses need to wake up to their responsibilities to themselves, their clients and their employees, and create policies which not only harness the power of mobile technology to optimise operations, while maintaining a level of management similar to that which exists in the workplace before situations arise.”

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