by Al Sacco

Mobile-Related Security Threats On the Rise

May 21, 20082 mins
IT SkillsMobileSecurity

More than half of information security staffers say risks related to mobile devices and remote workers are up significantly compared to a year ago, new research says. Combine more mobile people with more corporate data passing beyond the corporate walls, and you have a mounting challenge.

Though viruses, worms and spyware are the IT security threats keeping the most CIOs, CISOs, CSOs and their teams up at night, more than half of them say risks related to mobile devices and remote workers are up significantly compared to a year ago, according to survey findings released this week.

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Such mobile threats include simple user operating error; unauthorized use or misuse of mobile devices; phishing attacks; and loss or theft of devices and data, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) says. CompTIA commissioned market research firm TNS in early 2008 to conduct the online survey of 2,024 “individuals responsible for information security enforcement in their organizations.” Surveys were conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and China.

“As global trends of workforce mobility and decentralization place a greater strain on IT security infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly more complex for IT departments to safeguard information,” says Laurel Chivari, vice president, marketing and communications, CompTIA.

The challenge to IT is compounded by a lack of appropriate security training for users. Though 71 percent of respondents say their organization provides remote access to corporate data and systems to mobile workers, only 39 percent have offered specific security training to those remote staffers, the survey found. But the number of organizations providing such training does appear to be on the rise: another CompTIA survey from last year found less than a third of organizations holding security training sessions for mobile staff. And 19 percent of respondents in the recent survey say they plan to offer security training in 2008, compared to the 10 percent with such plans from the earlier survey.

The benefits of security training for mobile workers are clear: Ninety-two percent of respondents from organizations that have instituted some form of training for remote workers say they believe the number of major security breaches has been reduced, according to CompTIA.

Currently, the three leading IT skills, from a hiring manager standpoint, are security, general networking and operating systems, according to CompTIA. But mobile and wireless skills are expected to grow most in importance over the coming five years to become the number one most valued skill set.