A worrying number of UK office workers admit to putting work-related data at risk whilst working off-site, according to research released today by Fasthosts Internet Ltd, a leading web hosting provider.
The study of 1000 British office workers finds that 37 per cent have taken risks with work-related data or documents, such as using personal or home computers, or taking a slack approach to data security whilst outside of the office.
1 in 4 office workers admit to committing at least one ‘data security sin’ such as losing a USB device, leaving laptops unattended in public (such as on a train), or keeping work-related files in a car overnight. The study reveals that very few UK office workers use a secure online method of transferring work data to and from their workplace.
Fasthosts’ 'Bad Data Habits Audit' reveals that many British office workers may be putting their companies at risk by transferring or saving work-related materials off-site without sufficient care. The study reveals that whilst only 15 per cent of workers know they have lost data, 37 per cent admit they have cut-corners and put data at unnecessary risk whilst away from the office.
1 in 4 office workers take significant risks with their behavior, such as losing a storage device or papers, or leaving laptops unsecured in public or in their cars. Worryingly, 1 in 4 respondents keep work-related data from the past stored on their home computers. 1 in 5 workers admit to frequently risking important documents by failing to make any back-up copy.
The data reveals that in most cases individual workers are expected to determine their own method for transferring data off site. The most commonly used method of data storage and transfer off-site is the USB stick (25 per cent), followed by a work email account (24 per cent), laptop (14 per cent), private email account (9 per cent) and paper documents (9 per cent).
Due to their small size, USB sticks are easily lost when off-site or traveling. In addition, USB drives are a common way for computer viruses to be spread between machines. By transferring data in this way, employees can expose their office systems to any viruses or malware that is present on personal or public computers.
Steve Holford, Marketing Director, Fasthosts Internet Ltd, said "Businesses can make the mistake of viewing data security as an on-site issue. Often the risks can lie with physical loss or with personal computers. Firms should identify how their staff transfer and handle business documents outside of the work-place, and minimize the risks by providing them with clear advice and a secure and easy to use solution for handling the data".
Today, there are web-based services that can help workers safely transfer, store or back-up their documents whilst working outside of the office. These cloud-based storage solutions transfer data as encrypted and store it in a secure data center location protected against physical and electronic threats.
The study reveals that currently only 5 per cent of respondents are using an online storage or back-up service provided by their work, and 2 per cent are using such a service they themselves have sourced.
The data also reveals that too many UK firms are losing data as a result of IT problems. 1 in 10 workers has lost data recently as a result of a server or disk-drive failing. 1 in 10 report that their employers do not provide any advice or software for making back-ups of files.
Holford added, "A secure online storage solution can not only enhance your data security but can also raise productivity as business materials are on-hand to staff 24/7 from any computer".