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ICO: Companies Laissez Faire over BYOD personal data

Antony Savvas | March 11, 2013
The ICO has also published guidance explaining some of the risks organisations must consider.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says many employers "appear to have a laissez faire attitude" to allowing staff to use their personal devices for business, which may be placing people's personal information at risk.

ICO commissioned YouGov to question 2,150 UK adults, which found that almost half (47 percent) now use their personal smartphone, laptop or tablet for work purposes.

But less than three in ten who do so are provided with guidance on how their devices should be used in this capacity, "raising worrying concerns that people may not understand how to look after the personal information accessed and stored on these devices", said the ICO.

The survey results have come as the ICO publishes guidance explaining some of the risks organisations must consider when allowing personal devices to be used to process work-related personal information. The guidance explains how "bring your own device" (BYOD) strategies can be adopted safely and in a manner that complies with the Data Protection Act.

Simon Rice, ICO group manager for technology, said: "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."

Rice said the guidance aims to help organisations develop their own policies by highlighting the issues they must consider. For example, does the organisation know where personal data is being stored at any one time? Do they have measures in place to keep the information accurate and up-to-date? And is there a failsafe system so that the device can be wiped remotely if lost or stolen?"

The YouGov survey shows that email is the most common work activity carried out on a personal device, accounting for 55 percent of people who use their own gadgets. This was followed by 37 percent who used a personal device to edit work documents, and 36 percent who stored work documents.


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