The Biggest Security Threat: Employees

Carl Weinschenk

IT folks must often just want to give up and go home when confronted with the reality that much, if not most, data loss can be blamed on users' carelessness.

Sure, the bad guys are there to help -- but they would have to get real jobs if people took care of their own business.

A Ponemon Institute/Vontu survey is more proof, if any still is needed, of how lax users are. It's frightening. The survey said that during the past year, 81 percent of companies lost one or more laptops with sensitive data. That's bad enough, but the kicker is that about half of responding companies wouldn't be able to identify what materials would be lost if a portable device disappears (the percentages differ marginally depending on the type of portable that goes missing).

The bottom line is simple: It's hard to protect the family jewels if you don't know if they are in the kitchen, bedroom or bath.

Another bit of evidence that backs the old Pogo conclusion that "we have met the enemy and he is us" comes from a university study that found it's easy to go to a yard sale, online or just about anywhere and find storage drives loaded with valuable information. Granted, this isn't directly related to mobility, but it's a prime example of the scandalous nonchalance surrounding the protection of data.

Security folks aren't going anywhere. Indeed, some of them probably are pretty happy about the situation, since it guarantees that they'll always have a gig. But even they would probably be more comfortable if traveling workers took some simple steps to secure the devices upon which so much depends.

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