The security threat posed by mobile devices and remote working is racing up the CIO agenda according to a major survey published this week.

Keeping on top of viruses, worms and spyware is still the main headache of CIOs, chief information security officers and chief security officers, more than half of them say risks related to mobile technology is up significantly compared to a year ago, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The threats include simple user operating error; unauthorised use or misuse of mobile devices; phishing attacks; and loss or theft of devices and data, the says.

CompTIA commissioned market research firm TNS in early 2008 to conduct the online survey of 2,024 "individuals responsible for information security enforcement in their organisations" in the United Kingdom, China, Canada and also the US.

"As global trends of workforce mobility and decentralisation place a greater strain on IT security infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly more complex for IT departments to safeguard information," said Laurel Chivari, vice president, marketing and communications at CompTIA.

The challenge to IT is compounded by a lack of appropriate security training for users. Though 71 per cent of respondents say their organisation provides remote access to corporate data and systems to mobile workers, only 39 per cent have offered specific security training to their remote staff, the survey found.

But the number of organisations providing such training does appear to be on the rise: another CompTIA survey from last year found less than a third of organisations holding security training sessions for mobile staff. And 19 per cent of respondents in the recent survey say they plan to offer security training in 2008, compared to the 10 per cent with such plans from the earlier survey.

The benefits of security training for mobile workers are clear: ninety-two per cent of respondents from organisations that have instituted some form of training for remote workers say they believe the number of major security breaches has been reduced, according to CompTIA.

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