More than ever, end users rely on smartphones to keep them connected both personally and professionally. As a result, enterprises now must support a wide variety of both enterprise- and employee-owned devices – a trend known as “the consumerization of IT.” However, the conversation around the consumerization of IT almost always revolves around what IT departments think of this rapidly growing trend.

Symantec recently conducted a short survey to learn more about end users’ experiences and perspectives on the consumerization of IT, with the intention of getting a glimpse into the thoughts and opinions of end users. As such, it used Facebook and Twitter to recruit respondents. Here are some of the results:

>> End users realize the productivity and satisfaction benefits of allowing employees to use the smartphones of their choice for work, but don’t fully comprehend the extent of the security challenges this creates.

The vast majority of the respondents to the Symantec survey said they think allowing end users to use the smartphones of their choice for work increases end-user productivity and satisfaction. However, most think that allowing employees to use the smartphones of their choice either has no impact on or only somewhat decreases the overall security of their company’s networks and information. This is an indication that enterprises might not be educating employees on the potential security risks these devices create.

Key stats:

  • 71 percent of respondents think letting employees use the smartphone of their choice for work-related activities somewhat to significantly increases employee productivity.
  • 85 percent also think it somewhat to significantly increases employee satisfaction.
  • 23 percent also think letting employees use the smartphone of their choice for work-related activities has no impact on the overall security of company networks and information.
  • 52 percent think it only somewhat decreases the overall security.

>> The consumerization of IT has already become a reality for most organizations.

Again, the vast majority of respondents said their companies allow employees to use the smartphones of their choice for work-related activities. As further evidence that the consumerization of IT trend is in full swing, nearly identical percentages of respondents said their employers provided them with their smartphones as those who said they purchased their own. Together, these results demonstrate the consumerization of IT no longer is an emerging trend; for many enterprises, it’s a reality.

Key stats:

  • 63 percent of respondents said their companies allow employees to use the smartphones of their choice for work-related activities.
  • Another 25 percent said their company allows employees to use the smartphone of their choice within a set list of smartphone options.
  • Only 12 percent of respondents said their company does not give employees the ability to choose their smartphone.
  • 44 percent of respondents said their employer provided them with their smartphones.
  • 43 percent said they purchased their own work-related smartphones.

>> The mobile device security policies and/or best practices being communicated primarily deal with the loss or theft of devices, with malicious apps still taking a backseat.

Of those respondents who had been briefed by their employers on smartphone security policies and/or best practices, the need to password-protect mobile devices was the most commonly communicated, while the least were guidelines around the downloading of apps for smartphones. Given the fact that the majority of malicious malware for smartphones being observed by Symantec involves legitimate apps that have been Trojanized and re-published on third-party app-hosting sites, organizations need to do better at communicating policies and/or best practices related to downloading apps.

>> Employees are using smartphones to access sensitive and confidential information and, while organizations are improving in their efforts to ensure that these devices are secure and properly managed, more needs to be done.

Despite the fact that nearly half of respondents said they are not aware of any mobile-device security and/or management software or tools their companies use in relation to their devices, nearly three-fourths said they access information that could be considered sensitive or confidential with their devices. The most common sensitive information accessed is competitive or proprietary data and personally identifiable information.

>> End users don’t fully realize the potentially sensitive nature of the information stored on smartphones.

Symantec gave survey-takers four options – laptop, smartphone, wallet and car keys – and asked which of these items (if lost) would cause the greatest emotional distress. The majority ranked wallet first, followed by laptop, smartphone and car keys. This indicates end users realize the direct financial loss and threat of identity theft possible with the associated loss of a wallet. However, as smartphones become more ingrained in end users’ daily routines, the amount of sensitive information and data stored on these devices is increasing, leading to direct financial loss and/or identity theft.

To view the entire survey, click here.

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