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50% Of Corporate Laptops Not Secured Against Malware, Theft Or Data Loss, Says New Check Point Survey

December 2009 by Check Point

More than half of UK public and private sector organisations are still at risk of data breaches and leaks from portable PCs, because they do not have data encryption in place to secure their business laptops. Furthermore, only 54% say they have anti-virus deployed on their laptops, according to a new UK security survey by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

According to the new survey of 135 IT managers and senior IT staff, only 41% of respondents said they had data encryption solutions deployed on their business laptops. 51% said they did not have encryption, and 8% said they did not know if encryption was in use.

Despite the lack of anti-virus protection on laptops, 72% of respondents reported they had a VPN client deployed on their fleet of portable PCs. This means a significant number of organisations are vulnerable to malware attacks at mobile endpoints, which in turn could infect core networks.

These security vulnerabilities seem unlikely to be fixed over the next 12 months. When asked if the recent launch of Windows 7 would drive replacement of their laptop fleets, 50% said they had no plans to upgrade at all. Just 32% plan to upgrade within the next year, and 17% of IT managers said within 12 to 18 months

Nick Lowe, Check Point’s regional director for Northern Europe said: “It’s very surprising that the losses, thefts and malware outbreaks suffered by organisations over the past two years have had such little impact on the way UK organisations secure laptop PCs. These machines are the most vulnerable point in a business’ IT set-up, and yet they remain largely unsecured.

“It’s also interesting that the majority of those surveyed are adopting a wait-and-see attitude to Windows 7 – it seems that organisations want to squeeze maximum value from their existing machines. But the lack of security on laptops, and the lack of plans to address this, should set alarm bells ringing: it’s only a matter of time before a breach or infection happens to organisations without protection.”

Respondents were asked what security measures they would take, if they did upgrade their fleet to Windows 7. 30% said they had no firm plans. 38% said they would upgrade only their existing security software. 15% said they would add new security applications, and 9% would replace existing security software with an integrated endpoint suite. Just 8% said they would use Microsoft Security Essentials.

Asked for their opinions on the relative complexity of securing laptops, 46% said they did not find it a problem. 45% felt that laptop security could be simplified. 9% said they found it was too complex.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) use Windows XP on their laptops, with just 15% using Vista.

The Check Point email survey, conducted together with eMedia, gauged the opinions of 135 senior IT staff, IT managers and IT directors across a range of UK companies from both the public and private sector.

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