An explosion of personal mobile devices on corporate networks is creating new security headaches for the enterprise, according to a survey of IT professionals by a network security vendor.

Many of these devices are carrying a wide range of business and customer information, according to the report, released this week by Check Point Software Technologies. The results found that 71% of companies say mobile devices have "contributed to increased security incidents" and many of the security problems are traced to employee carelessness or ignorance.

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The report, The Impact of Mobile Devices on Information Security, surveyed 768 IT professionals of various ranks in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany and Japan, from a range of company sizes and industries. The full report is available in a PDF file.

Among the findings:

- About 94% of respondents report a rise in personal mobile devices connecting to the corporate network; 78% of respondents say the number has more than doubled in the last two years; 65% allow personal devices to connect to corporate networks.

- 30% say Apple iOS is the most used platform on their network, with BlackBerry OS just behind at 29%; Android ranks third, at 21%; but 43% of respondents say Android devices pose the greatest security risk; 36% say Apple iOS; 22% fingered BlackBerry OS.

- Employee behaviors are a key part of the security problem: 47% say customer data is stored on mobile devices; 72% say careless employees are a greater security threat than hackers; and "lack of employee awareness" of corporate security policies ranked as having the greatest impact on mobile data security.

About two-thirds of respondents say they've seen an increase in security incidents in the past two years, and 71% of these say mobile devices are a "contributing factor" to the rise. But the increase varies: 35% say the number of security threats increased 1%-25%; 19% say the increase was 25%-50%; 10% say it surged by more than 50%. One-third of respondents say they've seen no increase in threats.

The respondents were asked to "rank the impact" of a list of factors on mobile data security. The following shows what percentage of respondents chose each factor:

1. lack of employee awareness 62% 2. insecure Web browsing 61% 3. insecure Wi-Fi connectivity 59% 4. lost or stolen mobile devices with corporate data 58% 5. corrupt applications downloaded to mobile devices 57% 6. lack of security patches from service providers 53% 7. high rate of users changing or upgrading their mobile devices 48%

These numbers are troubling, in part because the survey found a wide range of corporate data is stored on these devices. Almost 80% of respondents say corporate email is stored on them; 65% say business contacts. But 47% say customer data, 38% say network login credentials, and 32% say corporate data via business applications also turn up.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: Email: [email protected] Blog RSS feed:

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