Employers urged to tighten up on personal device use

Employers are being urged to be less relaxed about employers who use a personal laptop, tablet computer or smartphone for work and could be placing people’s personal information at risk.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that 47 per cent of allUKadults now use their personal smartphone, laptop or tablet computer for work purposes, an approach known as bring your own device (BYOD).

The survey found that email was the most common work activity carried out on a personal device, accounting for 55 per cent of people who use a personal device for work tasks.  Just over a third (37 per cent) used a personal device to edit work documents and a similar number (36 per cent) store work documents.

But the ICO said that fewer than three in ten people who bring their own device receive guidance from their employers on how these should be used for work, triggering concerns that employees may not understand how to look after the personal information accessed and stored on these devices.

The findings were released on 7 March to coincide with the launch of ICO guidance on how the BYOD approach can be adopted safely and in a manner that complies with the Data Protection Act. It includes advice that they should have remote locate and wipe facilities in place so the confidentiality of the data can be maintained in the event of a loss or theft.

Simon Rice, group manager (technology) at the ICO, said: “The rise of smartphones and tablet devices means that many of the common daily tasks we would have previously carried out on the office computer can now be worked on remotely.

“While these changes offer significant benefits to organisations, employers must have adequate controls in place to make sure this information is kept secure.”

He added that any cost involved in introducing controls would “pale into insignificance” in comparison with the reputational damage caused by a serious data breach.

Link: ICO guidance