Almost three-quarters of mobile users are putting company and personal data at risk by ignoring security threats when working on the go, according to a new report commissioned by Cisco and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).
Although many users are 'sometimes' aware of mobile security, 28 per cent admitted that they 'hardly ever' consider security risks and proper behaviour.
Some even said that they 'never' consider safety best practice and are unaware of the need to recognise the risks.
The study set out to explore the implications for businesses striving to become mobile, and questioned more than 700 mobile employees in the US, UK, Germany, China, India, South Korea and Singapore.
"Wireless and mobility technologies are here to stay. They are a fact of life," said Ron Teixeira, executive director of the NCSA, an organisation chartered to educate the public on online security and safety.
"Mobility and the internet can be used securely and safely if businesses institute a culture of security within their workforce by providing employees with continuous cyber-security awareness and education programmes."
Poor understanding of the dangers and the technology seems to be the primary reason for the lack of adoption of best practices among mobile workers.
One-third of respondents access unauthorised wireless networks, while more than half of mobile users in China, India and the UK open emails and/or attachments from unknown or suspicious sources.
Excuses for this behaviour included: 'I'm in a hurry', 'I'm busy and need to get work done', 'Security just is not top-of-mind for me' and 'It's IT's job, not mine'.
Over three-quarters of respondents also indicated that it is more difficult to identify suspicious emails and files on PDAs and smartphones than on laptops because the screens are much smaller.
"Businesses are increasingly entrusting more and more employees with access to corporate information outside the office," said Ben Gibson, director of wireless and mobility at Cisco.
"But this does not need to be a growing concern if the proper security technology and IT-user engagement model is in place."
The issue is becoming increasingly important as adoption of wireless and mobility technologies increases.
Analyst firm IDC predicts that more than 70 per cent of the US workforce will be mobile by 2009.
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