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IT managers fail to protect mobile devices

A third of IT professionals do not bother protecting their mobile devices with passwords, according to a new survey.

The survey of 173 IT managers also found that three out of ten stored PIN numbers, passwords and other sensitive information on handhelds.

According to the Mobile Usage Survey 2005, carried out by Mobile encryption company Pointsec and SC Magazine, huge amounts of confidential data was stored on PDAs and smartphones. This included customer contacts, emails, passwords and bank account details as well as personal and private information.

The survey, first introduced four years ago, found that awareness of the risks of storing unencrypted data on a mobile device is still low. 78 percent of users do not encrypt the information on their PDA or smartphone even though sensitive personal and valuable corporate information is being stored on these devices with 81 percent using them to store business names and addresses, 45 percent to receive and view emails and 27 percent store corporate information. It found 59 percent also use their devices as a business diary and 14 percent use them to store information on their customers.

According to the survey more people than ever before are losing their mobile devices, last year just 16 percent had lost one, this year it has increased to 22 percent and of those that did lose their device 81 percent had not encrypted their information and admitted that they were worried that the information could fall into the wrong hands and not only cause a security risk as corporate and private data could be lost, but also embarrassment as friends and colleagues could be contacted by a total stranger.

Martin Allen, managing director of Pointsec said that with so much information stored on mobile devices "it's essential to secure them."

"We believe this survey shows just the tip of the iceberg as it has been conducted amongst IT professionals who are far more security savvy than most other handheld device users. Our advice is secure it, or don't use it," said Allen.

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