Small businesses ignore mobile device risks

Three in four small businesses do not understand the threats posed by reliance on mobile phones and tablets, according to a report by security software developer AVG.

AVG’s 2011 SMB Market Landscape Report reveals that many SMBs are open to costly security breaches and information theft because they ignore the risk posed by having mobile devices used in the business.

The report, which tracks the security attitudes and practices of companies with up to 100 employees, revealed that almost 75 percent of respondents did not realise the dangers of having outdated security regimes in place for the mobile devices they provide to staff, or those owned by employees and used at work.

“New mobility technologies are providing tremendous opportunities for flexibility and efficiency but they also expose businesses to the very costly impacts of hacking and internet malware,” said Michael McKinnon, security adviser at AVG Australia/New Zealand.

McKinnon said that the deceptively small devices should be treated like the powerful internet-connected computers they are, and handled like any other computer with vital business and personal information carried on them—especially as they are easily lost or stolen.

He added that a 273 percent rise in malware has further changed the threat landscape for mobile devices.

Half the respondents allow employees remote access to their networks, with workers spending about one day a week away from their office. Remote staff tend to work from home (71%), on the move (47%) and from wireless hotspots (35%), which open businesses to the highest level of risk.

McKinnon strongly advises properly securing smartphones and tablet devices with purpose-designed security solutions, including data loss prevention software and up-to-date anti-virus and internet protection.

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