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UAE among top 5 ‘at risk’ countries for mobile security

UAE among top 5 ‘at risk’ countries for mobile security

The Emirates ranked at the bottom of a list of countries that have high levels of mobile security, a new survey showed

The United Arab Emirates is among the top five ‘at risk’ countries for cyber attacks through mobile devices, largely due to unsafe behaviour by employees, a new survey found.

A report by Aruba Networks that polled 11,500 workers in 23 countries on their mobile security habits found that Western countries fared much better than their Asian and Middle Eastern counterparts.

Employees in the Western markets practised the world’s safest employee behaviour when using mobile devices at work while the emerging Eastern nations ranked the lowest.

Sweden, the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Norway had the safest employee habits while Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, China and the UAE ranked at the bottom of the list.

In the UAE, nearly 48 per cent of workers admitted to having lost their personal or company data through the misuse of a mobile. This compares to just 24 per cent of workers who did the same in the US, the survey said.

The report also named GenMobile, a term used to refer to the demographic that prefers to use mobile devices for online engagement, as the main driver for compromising mobile security. These mobile savvy workers often prioritised productivity over traditional security concerns.

“It appears that emerging markets are seeing more self-empowered workers who are embracing new technologies and new ways of driving growth, but are also introducing added risks into the business,” said Aruba networks’ regional technical manager of Gulf and Pakistan Saadi Kawkji.

“The results suggest that while risk can be bad, it can also be good for business – something that more conservative westernised markets should take note of.”

The survey also noted some potentially risky employee behaviour in some markets that could compromise a company. Just three in 10 mobile users in Malaysia used a password to lock their smartphones compared to nine out of 10 users in the UK. Meanwhile Chinese users were found to share their mobile devices 19 times more easily than their Swedish peers.

“If the workforce thinks nothing of sharing passwords or devices in order to get things done, this presents an interesting productivity vs security challenge for IT managers the world over,” said Kawkji.

“Striking the balance will be all important to ensuring companies are attracting and retaining the best talent, without exposing sensitive data in the process.”

Flexible working hours are gaining traction around the world and especially in the Middle East as companies seek new ways to boost productivity among employees.

A study by research firm International Data Corporation estimated that people using their mobile devices to work in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will grow from 186.2 million in 2010 to reach 244.6 million in 2015.

In addition, a growing trend of ‘bring your own device’ to work has also buoyed the growth of the mobile workforce.

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