Federal Workers Are Not Protecting Their Mobile Devices

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Secure mobilemeterMore than 40 percent of government employees are putting themselves and their agencies at risk with their mobile device habits, according to Cisco and the Mobile Work Exchange’s report “The 2014 Mobilometer Tracker: Mobility, Security, and the Pressure In Between.” As part of the study, an assessment tool called the Secure Mobilometer was developed to understand mobile (in)security and vulnerabilities.  The tool provided insight into the mobile device habits of government agency employees. The results show one singular truth: government employees and agencies need to take significant steps to secure confidential data.

The Cold, Hard Facts

155 government employees in 30 agencies, as well as a significant number of employees in the private sector, were surveyed. The results revealed that federal workers are making some big mistakes when it comes to their security.

  • 31% access public wifi networks on a regular basis.
  • 52% do not use any data encryption software, such as a VPN, to safeguard their data.
  • 25% do not use passwords, or use easily guessable ones (such as 1234) on their mobile devices.
  • 6% have lost or misplaced their mobile devices.

Overall, 41% of federal employees are putting agencies at risk with their existing mobility habits.  However, the employees are not the only ones at fault here. Many agencies are failing to properly educate their employees on how to secure their mobile devices. Only half said that their agency provided formal security training for their mobile devices.

The Silver Lining

Government employees scored much higher on the Secure Mobilometer than employees in the private sector. This is an indication that government employees are practicing safer mobile device security than private sector ones.

Below are some comparison highlights from the report:

  • Government agencies are 30% more likely than private sector firms to require employees to register their mobile devices with their IT departments (53% versus 21%).
  • Government agencies are 40% more likely to require regular mobile device training than private sector organizations (53% versus 13%).
  • Government employees were almost 50% less likely to have downloaded a non-work-related app to their mobile device than those in the private sector (15% versus 60%).

So even though government employees are doing some things to protect their mobile devices, and are safer than their private sector counterparts, there is much more work to be done. Since government employees have access to highly sensitive government information, protecting their mobile devices will hopefully remain a high priority for the federal government.

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Jared Howe

Jared Howe is PRIVATE WiFi’s Senior Manager, Product Marketing Communications. Working in high tech for over 15 years, Jared currently lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, and their two cats.