Survey: Mobile Devices, Remote Computing Posing New Security Challenges

Spyware, viruses and worms continue to plague most organizations, but security challenges tied to the use of handheld devices and mobile and remote computing are growing at a rapid pace, new research commissioned by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) reveals.

The CompTIA survey of more than 2,000 individuals found that viruses and worms, cited by 54 percent of respondents, and spyware, selected by 51 percent, continue to be the top two information security threats organizations face today.

But security issues related to handheld devices, and to mobile and remote workers, are clearly emerging concerns. In each of the four countries where surveys were conducted the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and China more than 50 percent of respondents said security threats related to use of handheld devices has increased significantly compared to one year ago.

"As global trends of workforce mobility and decentralization place a greater strain on IT security infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly more complex for IT departments to safeguard information," said Laurel Chivari, vice president, marketing and communications, CompTIA. "Threats related to mobile/remote computing and handheld devices can include simple user operating error; using a mobile device for unauthorized purposes; worms, viruses and phishing attacks; or loss or theft of the mobile device."

Nearly three-quarters of respondents surveyed (71 percent) said their organizations allow mobile and remote employees to access data and networks, yet relatively few have implemented security awareness training tailored specifically for the mobile and remote workforce. Just 39 percent of respondents said their organizations have implemented security awareness training and education, while 19 percent said they intend to do so in 2008.

Yet among organizations that have implemented such training for remote and mobile employees, 92 percent of respondents believe that the number of major security breaches has been reduced.

CompTIA commissioned TNS to conduct the survey. The online survey of individuals responsible for information security enforcement in their organizations was conducted in January and February and received a total 2,024 responses. For more information on "Trends in Information Security: A CompTIA Analysis of IT Security and the Workforce" and other CompTIA research, visit http://www.comptia.org/sections/research/default.aspx.

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