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Business Computing World considers the risks to data posed by mobile workers

Business Computing World released a story earlier this week written by Colin Woodland, which looked into the risks to data posed by mobile workers (http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/is-your-company-data-safe-in-the-hands-of-your-mobile-workers/).

“The move towards a truly mobile workforce is accelerating at a blindingly fast pace. IDC estimates that there are already over 1 billion mobile workers worldwide. Laptops, netbooks, and USB flash drives allow workers to access, remove and store large amounts of data and take it outside the relatively safe confines of your corporate offices. There’s no doubt about the productivity gains and benefits of a mobile workforce.” writes Woodland.  He goes on to argue that the cost of mobilising a workforce may outweigh the benefits due to the huge costs of data breaches which, according to the article, average a staggering £1.68 million per breach.

Woodward offers a way of managing the risk: to ensure that all devices whether laptops or USB sticks are encrypted – but also to ensure that there is a log of all of the portable devices in the organisation and their assignment to employees.  This is a great approach but in our opinion, it’s too narrow.  Like Woodward, we too are great supporters of a structured data management system; a documented suite of processes and procedures managed by an internal team and designed to continually improve data governance and the way that data is managed in an organisation.  But this is a far cry from a log of devices.  We encourage a periodic review of and organisations’ data at all points of its lifecycle through the organisation and a documented review of findings.  We encourage controlled documents implemented in a systematic way to build a framework for data governance designed to manage risk.  The log of devices would be one such technique within the broader data governance system.

Absolute Data was fortunate enough to attend Cloudforce in London on the 8th September 2010. It is truly quite amazing what can be achieved using the force.com platform and the salescloud; not only to mitigate the specific risk of data loss on laptops and portable media, but also in terms of mobilising the workforce.  We also believe that organisations should adopt a cloud computing strategy that works to manage its data risks and often we find that this falls out of a data governance audit as a way of reducing the risk of data loss.

Colin Woodward’s full article can be read at http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/is-your-company-data-safe-in-the-hands-of-your-mobile-workers/