Paranoid, holidaying workers are IT parasites

4 Aug 2010

Even while jetting away from it all and surrounded by sand and sea, the stressed economy means workers can’t keep their minds off their jobs and by remotely accessing networks on unencrypted devices are posing an unparalleled IT security threat.

With bags packed, flights booked and foreign currency in their pockets, the workforce might be jetting off but they’re definitely not leaving the daily grind behind.

Instead, of these stressed-out individuals, a whopping 95pc will be taking their mobiles and smartphones abroad with them with the expectation of working.

These are the remarkable findings of a survey, conducted by Credant Technologies amongst 1,000 office workers in London, which discovered 65pc of those questioned who plan to take a summer break overseas will remain in contact with the office, check email accounts and text to ensure things stay on track during their absence.

Almost half of those who plan to check emails will do so at least once a day, even though they should be laying back and taking a well-earned break.

Diligent, stressed, paranoid or laid back – which are you?

Unsurprisingly, 54pc of those that felt they had to be available while away from their desks admitted checking their emails would leave them more stressed instead of relaxed following their break.

Some 58pc confessed that the mechanics of remaining in contact, such as data security, caused them additional worry. And 46pc actually believe remaining in contact would leave them feeling in control and able to relax.

Fifty-seven per cent blamed being a work junky on the current economic climate, making it important that they are reachable while away. Some 39pc believe, rightly or wrongly, that their bosses actually expect to be able to contact them nowadays when taking annual leave.

Two-thirds using valuable baggage allowance to carry laptops

In a repeat of its study, first conducted two years ago, to measure “mobile habits, leisure and security”, Credant has found that 64pc of those questioned this year will take a laptop with them on their travels, compared with just 33pc in 2008.

Unfortunately, for those companies employing these dutiful workers, a shocking 66pc will be unencrypted and 51pc left totally insecure without even a password for protection! Let’s hope they’re not left behind at the airport, in a café or on the beach.

“We seem to have changed to a global population of workaholics. Only 35pc of our respondents have no contact whatsoever with work during their holiday which puts them firmly in the minority,” said Darren Shimkus, worldwide SVP of marketing at Credant Technologies.

“Although on the surface this may seem like a good trend, especially for cash struck organisations, we deal with the aftermath from these industrious workers when company secrets have gone AWOL. The harsh reality is that when corporate information is accessed from a mobile device, whether it’s personal or company owned, and it’s misplaced, there are consequences.”

“Who’s to blame? Is it the employee who just can’t let go or the employer for making them feel that they have to be accessible in the first place?

“Regardless of why it’s happening and with data privacy regulations getting harsher all the time, our advice to the corporate world is don’t leave security up to your staff, do it for them, especially as the Information Commissioner’s Office are under pressure to flex its new muscle and fine up to £500K for data breaches.

“Take the opportunity to re-evaluate your security – especially of your mobile devices, and perhaps invest in some holiday insurance of your own,” Shimkus said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years