Work email 'addicts' are growing IT security risk

Over-stretched IT departments are finding it difficult to cope with the challenges of managing an increasingly mobile workforce, a report by Credant Technologies suggests, as enterprise mobility races ahead of the IT function’s capacity to support or protect it.

Email-fixated UK employees are putting computer security – and personal relationships – in jeopardy by obsessively using laptops and PDAs out of work hours. The survey of 300 City workers, ‘Laptop use in bed’, found that 25 per cent of respondents habitually use a laptop or other mobile device before they go to sleep, with 57 per cent spending between two and six hours a week doing so.

Eight per cent of those surveyed admitted that they spend more time in the evening on their mobile devices than talking to their personal partners.

The obsession is also introducing greater security risks as employees take their devices everywhere – including on holiday – without encrypting all work-related data that they hold. And connecting to the Internet using unsecured WiFi networks at home and from hotel rooms (as 87 per cent of the sample do) is introducing further potential vulnerabilities, the survey says.

“There is a growing population of knowledge workers who are no longer constrained by working hours, or by having to work in an office building,” says Credant Technologies VP Michael Callahan. “People will now work anywhere – even in bed.” The drive to maintain high levels of work performance are, ironically, compromising their professional diligence, Callahan adds.

The pressure to over-perform in a contracting jobs market, plus the addictive quality of highly-responsive communications technology, are conspiring to create behavioral patterns that are upsetting many peoples’ work/life balance, Credant’s Callahan believes: “Even when emails are critical many people feel compelled to reply to them immediately.”

He predicts a greater future requirement for staff to adhere to IT security procedures as part of their contracts of employment, with failure to do so resulting in disciplinary action.
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