Remote workers both asset and risk to business

Most of your remote workers, mobile users and road warriors toting around laptops and BlackBerrys have the business’s best interests but could still pose a considerable security threat to the organization.

That’s according to results from an August, 2008 survey of 300 remote employees who work on company-issued laptops, from mobility vendor Fiberlink.

Seven in ten (70 per cent) remote workers said they would rather get their work done on a secure network connection even if it meant their assignment or work would be late.

The alternative-connect to an unsafe network to get it done on time-wasn’t an option for these workers. (Just for fun, see “20 Crazy Things People Do to Get Wi-Fi Connections” to read about the bizarre and illegal things remote workers have done to get wireless Internet connectivity.)

In addition, those same remote workers think in-house IT staffers are doing a good job of keeping them connected and mobile. A whopping 96 per cent say that their current IT department does a good job enabling and supporting mobility by supplying devices, providing network access and helping them stay connected when working remotely. More love for IT: Almost four in five (78 per cent) respondents say their IT department has even provided them with technology that allows them to use their own PC-rather than a company-issued laptop-while working remotely.

Very Bad Things

That’s not to say that remote workers can’t get a little sneaky and put their organizations at some risk.

Almost one in four have either altered security settings or purposefully delayed security updates. Almost half have downloaded personal pictures and videos (43 per cent) or software for their own use (31 per cent) on their company-issued laptops.

And 25 per cent of remote workers admit they’ve even visited blacklisted or inappropriate websites on their company-issued laptops. (That seems awfully low, doesn’t it?)

Lastly, just how important has Internet connectivity become to remote workers? The survey found that the majority of mobile workers (74 per cent) can’t get their jobs done without the Internet.

In addition, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) believe it would be easier to live without their car for a week than to live without the Internet.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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