Study: Lax laptop policies create security concerns

Company laptops are routinely used to download music and video, access porn, and do a spot of online shopping, a new Europe-wide survey has revealed.

So big has the problem become that laptops returning to company networks after their travels are now one of the biggest security hazards faced by many companies. Despite this, 70 percent of companies questioned offered no written guidance to employees on the use of their machines, and only a quarter imposed technological restrictions.

The survey of employees in 500 companies across the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy on behalf of Websense Inc., uncovered the tendency of many employees to treat laptops as unofficial personal possessions. The crimes of the mobile workforce are various but include picking up spyware, downloading non-approved software, surfing porn sites, and generally treating the issue of security as a minor concern.

An astonishing 46 percent allowed people outside of work to use their machines. And board level employees were no better than workers at other levels of the organization, with 54 percent admitting any one of a number of hazardous activities such as downloading non-approved software. The U.K. scored at or near the top on most measures of risky behavior.

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