Many use PDAs with no security protection

Many users of personal data assistants (PDAs) store sensitive data on devices that have no security protection, a new survey shows.

By Control Engineering Staff May 13, 2004

Many users of personal data assistants (PDAs) store sensitive data on devices that have no security protection, a new survey shows. Despite their popularity as a daily productivity tool for millions of business users, PDAs pose a significant risk to companies as large numbers of employees store information on devices that can be easily lost or stolen. The study, “2004 United States PDA Business Usage Survey “, was conducted by the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and sponsored by Pointsec Mobile Technologies Inc. , USA, a subsidiary of IT security company Protect Data. The random survey was administered to 230 business professionals across the U.S., all of whom use a PDA regularly.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Half of all respondents did not have any kind of security features on their PDAs other than standard power-on password protection;

  • 81% of respondents said they carry “somewhat valuable” or “extremely valuable” information on their PDAs;

  • 24% of respondents have experienced a loss or theft of at least one PDA;

  • 38% access corporate networks or multiple networks using their device; and

  • 60% of all executive-level respondents say their business would be “somewhat” or “extremely” affected if the data on company-issued PDAs were lost.

“The data from the Pepperdine study tracks with similar research our company has done in countries outside the U.S. Clearly, unprotected PDAs are putting employers—whether corporate or organizational—at risk,” said Thomas Blitz, president of Pointsec Mobile Technologies Inc., USA. “What’s more, despite the risk, many corporate executives still perceive security to be a less-than-critical PDA purchase consideration.”

For more on the increasing use of PDAs in automation and control applications, read ” Have HMI, Will Travel ” in the March 2004 issue of Control Engineering magazine or on the Control Engineering Web site.

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com