Consumers' bad data security habits should worry employers
Posted on 26 February 2014.
Consumers are not securing the data on their personal laptops or desktops correctly, if at all, according to the results of a Harris Poll survey commissioned by WinMagic.

A mere 14 percent of those who own a laptop or desktop computer encrypt their personal machines, and more than four out of ten (44 percent) are not prompted to enter a password when booting up their computers.


A majority of those who own a laptop, desktop computer or mobile device say their personal emails (62 percent), personal pictures and videos (54 percent) would be at risk if their personal laptop, desktop or mobile device were lost or stolen. Nearly four out of ten (38 percent) would lose their banking information.

“If I am an IT manager or C-level executive, I have to assume the workers at my company do not understand how to secure company data, based on my read of the results of this survey,” said Mark Hickman, COO at WinMagic. “The concept of encryption—the only failsafe way to secure information at rest—is all but completely foreign to consumers, even though almost forty percent of them keep data as sensitive as banking information on their personal laptops or desktops.”

Other conclusions WinMagic experts draw from the results:
  • Work product at risk: Employers should note that according to the survey, 15 percent of those who own a laptop, desktop computer or mobile device say work-related content would be at risk if their laptop, desktop computer or mobile device were stolen or lost, and only 14 percent of those who own a laptop or desktop computer encrypt their machines. Work data lost on any computer—whether company-owned or not—puts a company at risk for compliance violations, the need for breach disclosure, and other legally mandated actions such as costly fines.
  • A/V means A-OK to many: 71 percent of those who own a laptop or desktop computer keep firewall and/or anti-virus software up to date on their machines. This protection represents the bare minimum, and the survey result might indicate a widespread fallacy that anti-virus software is enough to secure machines.
  • Well-advertised password best practices not followed: Under a third (31 percent) of those who own a laptop or desktop computer say they “regularly change” their passwords on their personal laptop or desktop computer. Given how many times consumers are reminded to change their passwords, such a low percentage is alarming.
The survey was conducted online within the US among 2,047 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 2,009 own a laptop/desktop computer.

WinMagic offers an eBook to IT managers concerned about consumer bad habits revealed by the survey results. The eBook provides best practices to secure enterprise data and train workers, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).






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