'Personal devices in the workplace risk personal data breaches'
07 March 2013
A 'laissez faire' attitude to people using their own smartphones and tablet computers for work purposes could place personal data at risk, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned.
A YouGov survey commissioned by the watchdog found that 47 per cent of UK adults used their personal smartphone, laptop or tablet computer for work purposes.
Despite this less than three in 10 people were given guidance on how to do this, sparking fears over the handling of personal data subsequently held on the devices.
Simon Rice, the ICO's group manager for technology, 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.
"The cost of introducing these controls can range from being relatively modest to quite significant, depending on the type of processing being considered, and might even be greater than the initial savings expected.
"Certainly the sum will pale into insignificance when you consider the reputational damage caused by a serious data breach. This is why organisations must act now."
The ICO, which can issue fines of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act, has now launched new guidance to help organisations develop policies to deal with the issue.
It comes as bodies across the public sector are considering their own bring your own device, or BOYD, strategies.
I could not agree more, indeed such devices (which may hold or allow easy access personal details) should be secured when not in use, for instanced locked away.
John Harris - NHS, London