Nearly 50% of the UK workforce use personally owned devices for work purposes, a new survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner's Office has found.
But of those workers, fewer than a third receive any guidance from their employer on how to handle data on their own equipment securely, it found.
The survey was conducted by polling group YouGov, and surveyed 2,151 UK adults online. Of those respondents who did use their own devices for work, 55% do so to check email, 37% to edit documents and 36% to store work documents.
In a new BYOD guide for business, the ICO advises the following precautions:
• Register devices with a remote locate and wipe facility to maintain confidentiality of the data in the event of a loss or theft
• Use public cloud-based sharing and public backup services, which you have not fully assessed, with extreme caution, if at all
• Ensure that access to the device is locked or data automatically deleted if an incorrect password is input too many times
• Enable encryption to store data on the device securely
• Use a strong password to secure your devices
• Be clear with staff about which types of personal data may be processed on personal devices and which may not
"The rise of smartphones and tablet devices means that many of the common daily tasks we would have previously carried out on the office computer can now be worked on remotely," said Simon Rice, group manager of technology at the ICO. "While these changes offer significant benefits to organisations, employers must have adequate controls in place to make sure this information is kept secure.
??“The cost of introducing these controls can range from being relatively modest to quite significant, depending on the type of processing being considered, and might even be greater than the initial savings expected," he added. "Certainly the sum will pale into insignificance when you consider the reputational damage caused by a serious data breach. This is why organisations must act now."