As the rate of stolen mobile devices has increased, the average time for IT departments to respond to this security threat has also grown, according to a Kaspersky Lab survey of global IT security professionals.
The report found that more than one-third of employees (38 percent) take up to two days to notify their employers of stolen mobile devices, and 9 percent of employees wait three to five days. The percentage of employees who notified their employers the same day the incident occurred decreased from 60 percent to 50 percent from 2013 to 2014.
The cause of this delay is employees becoming slower to notify their employers of missing devices, with only half of employees reporting theft quickly. "I suspect there is some embarrassment and or fear of reporting a lost, or perhaps stolen device," Mark Bermingham, director of global B2B product marketing for Kaspersky Lab, told eWeek. "Employees will often spend time, which ends up being critical time searching for and hoping to recover the device before giving up and reporting to your organization."
Across businesses that experienced mobile device theft, 19 percent said the device theft resulted in the loss of business data, meaning businesses have approximately a one-in-five chance of losing data if a corporate mobile device is stolen.
The survey also found that the rate of mobile device theft overall has continued to climb over the years, with 25 percent of companies experiencing the theft of a mobile device in 2014, a significant increase from the 14 percent reported in 2011. However, as stolen devices become more common, employees appear to be responding more slowly, with only half of employees in 2014 reported a stolen device on the same day the incident occurred.
The growing prevalence of stolen mobile devices may be a contributing factor to employee apathy, since a stolen smartphone might now be seen as a somewhat common occurrence, and not a rare crisis that demands attention. "I’d hope the trend would improve, but to accomplish this more training and expectation setting needs to occur between organizations and employees when dispensing and or activating BYOD mobiles," Bermingham said. "Some of this training needs to focus on the importance of speed in reporting a misplaced device, which may actually be lost or stolen." He noted that often, with the right administrative tools in place, like remote lock and find and misplaced device can more easily be retrieved. "
Additionally, in the event of loss remote wipe becomes critical and in this case the sooner the better," he said. "Enforcing policies like required passwords can also help to bolster security for events where devices are lost or stolen by making it more difficult for data and or sensitive business information to be extracted from these devices."
When looking at behaviors of employees in specific regions, North American employees are the slowest to respond based on 2014 survey data, with only 43 percent of North American employees reporting a stolen device on the same day as the incident.
The Asia-Pacific region saw the biggest change year-over-year with only 47 percent of employees reporting same-day notification in 2014, a drop from 74 percent in 2013.
However, the rate of mobile device theft varied significantly across regions. The Middle East reported the lowest rate of mobile device theft by far, with 8 percent of businesses reporting an incident, followed by 15 percent in Japan and Russia.