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The Mobile Working Boom Continues

Physical security is lacking in our mobile world

The number of mobile workers across the globe will reach 1.3 billion by 2015. Last year IDG Connect surveyed CIOs across the UK, France and Germany and revealed that mobile working is booming and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) has played a significant role in increasing the number of mobile workers. Often corporate IT policies mandate strict guidelines as to how company data is accessed, used and stored for devices, however protecting a screen from prying eyes is often forgotten.

Larger screen devices are exacerbating the problem, because sales of ‘phablets’(a cross between a phone and a small tablet) around the world are growing fast. Canalys latest research shows a third of the 279.4 million smartphones that shipped globally in the first quarter of 2014 had screens larger than 5 inches. In Europe, which accounted for 11% of the world total shipments, phablets made a smaller but still substantial proportion, at 27% of shipments.

More mobility increases the security risk

The sheer range of devices available encourages use for business purposes on the move and that’s where the physical security issues arise.  It’s not a small scale problem: millions of us workers need to take into account that when we’re using our mobile devices to look at company confidential material in airports, trains and coffee shops, or any other public place, we could be overlooked. Even open plan offices can pose a risk for sensitive data. It doesn’t take an IT security expert to gain access to a company’s, or its customers’, confidential data: just a pair of eyes. On-screen content can easily be viewed by someone unauthorised sitting next to you or simply passing by.

Chances are, someone’s probably already looked at your screen

The facts make sober reading and, unchecked, they are sure to soar. There is an 80% chance that you’ve already become a victim of others reading over your shoulder or ‘shoulder surfing’, according to 3M research.

‘Shoulder-surfing’ could also be contributing to the cost of UK data breaches to companies, which rose to almost £2.2 million per incident in 2014, up from £2 million last year. Reporting on real-world incidents, IBM’s 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study (carried out by the Ponemon Institute), found that the average per capita cost of a breach has reached £94, up from £85 last year. The top cause of data breaches involved negligent employees or contractors – which accounted for 40 percent of cases, higher than any other country surveyed – showing that the human factor is still the weakest link in UK data breaches.

The solution

So what can be done to combat this physical risk? The answer is not a new app, or some type of IT threat scanner, but a simple, yet clever, ‘fit and forget’ Privacy Filter. 3M Privacy Filters are not only easy to implement across a wide range of devices, but are an affordable and proven solution that is already in use in financial, government, legal and healthcare institutions.

These filters have been developed for most device types including desktop monitors, laptops, smart phones and tablets and fit easily over most screens. Using a unique black out privacy technology to block the view of the screen from either side, 3M Privacy Filters allow the user to comfortably continue viewing the information securely.

CIOs need to consider the visual security risks within their corporate policies. Where there’s a screen, there’s a risk. While mobile working is helping productivity and flexibility, it could also be accidentally opening company data up to anyone at its weakest point. 


Story originally posted by 3M 31/05/14

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