UK employers need to face up to encryption issues, survey argues

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UK workplaces suffer from poor encryption leading to corporate data risks, as well as the use of unprotected and unauthorised devices, according to a new survey from WinMagic.

The study, which polled more than 1,000 employees, found that 42% use devices which are not provided by their employer to cope with corporate emails and files – in other words, BYOD – and more than half (52%) use personal online accounts to store or access work files, with the biggest offenders being Hotmail, Gmail and Dropbox.

Nothing particularly revolutionary here of course – the shadow IT angle is one which has been analysed in this publication for some time. Yet more than a quarter (26%) of respondents say they use the same password for their work and personal accounts, while 35% admit their company’s policy forbids them for using personal hardware and accounts.

“IT departments need to consider carefully how they strike the balance between giving employees the flexibility they need, and ensuring the security of corporate data,” said Mark Hickman, WinMagic chief operating officer in a statement. “Achieving that requires a combination of software and employee education, to help improve personal IT habits that are out of control of the workplace.

“This is one of many areas where encryption can play a key role, protecting data stored in the cloud and on remote devices, on personal as well as corporate accounts,” added Hickmnan. “Encryption remains the last line of defence, where an online account is breached or a device lost.”

Naturally, given the thrust of the research is around the importance of encryption, WinMagic’s various solutions on the topic, including enterprise-grade encryption, are of interest. Yet the company has been banging this drum in the past; last year, a survey found that two thirds of employees did not know their company’s policy on cloud storage.

Writing for this publication in March Garry McCracken, WinMagic VP of technology, discussed the important role encryption plays in securing the integrity of IoT devices. 

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