Employees put their organisations at risk due to poor smart device disposal habits

December 19, 2012

A new survey has revealed that a lack of personal awareness and vulnerability management when it comes to disposing of personal devices may be putting many organisations at risk of digital crime.

According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Fiberlink earlier this year, more than two thirds of the workforce is not taking steps to have their personal devices wiped or destroyed before disposing of them.

More than 2,240 US workers aged 18 and older were polled in order to compile the results, which revealed that just 16 per cent of people have confidential data professionally wiped off of old smart devices when upgrading to a new model.

This should be of note to any organisation concerned about the security of employee and client information, as personal data left on discarded devices could potentially offer cyber criminals a way of accessing confidential company servers.

For this reason, Jonathan Dale, director of marketing at Fiberlink, believes that protecting corporate data on any personal devices being used for work-related purposes must be a top priority for security-conscious organisations.

"This survey raises new concerns that companies must address in order to safeguard sensitive information as devices approach the end of their lifecycle," said Mr Dale in a statement released December 13.

He went on to note that this is an area of particular concern during the busy holiday period, when many employees may be upgrading their personal devices due to receiving new Christmas presents or rewarding themselves for a difficult year.

"With new devices hitting the market from every major manufacturer this holiday season, including Apple, Microsoft, and Google, it will be important to know the right way to decommission a device," said Mr Dale.

The story is an example of how threats to the security of your organisation can come from many different locations, and highlights the value of undergoing regular third party security audit evaluations in order to assess where current policies may be falling short.

Fiberlink has offered up several recommendations when it comes to disposing of personal devices which might help mitigate the risk of confidential data falling into the wrong hands even further.

It suggests that employees notify IT departments whenever they are considering swapping devices, and encourages professional device wiping in order to ensure any work-related data is cleared from the smartphone or tablet before it is disposed of.

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