Thursday, April 26, 2012

UK stats: An alarming lack of concern for work data on personal devices

Today a research survey was published by the Information Commissioners Office, conducted by YouGov that shows an alarming lack of concern for business data kept on personal phones and laptops, that people regularly simply throw devices away and do not fully ensure that the confidential information is deleted properly before doing so, potentially allowing data to be accessed by someone else.

Work documents on personal devices

The survey showed that 34% of the UK have work documents on their personal computer, laptop or mobile phone.

Data deletion on old devices

In the same survey, people were asked what they do about the data when disposing of phones and computers.  10% said that they never delete the data on them, 13% said that they simply ask a friend and 29% say that they use the standard delete tools, (7% said that they didn't know - I think we can assume that if you don't know, you are not making sure that all data is deleted).

Disposal Options

28% have simply put devices out with the rubbish, 44% give it away to someone else and 21% of people sell devices, such as via eBay.

So, if we take these three sets of statistics together, we can see a major issue where confidential business information could easily be found on phones and computers.  Of course, in the last few years, the amount of data carried on phones and other mobile devices has exploded - so this survey is probably mainly concerning dumb phones being traded in and the problem is therefore likely to worsen unless employees and employers understand the risks and ensure that data does not stay on devices that are no longer in use.

The report and full statistics are available in this Excel file.

The press release (that also covers what was found when the ICO bought second have disk drives) is here.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2031 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 24th February 2012.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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