Survey: Most Corporate PDAs Left Unprotected

A new PDA usage study reveals 31% of respondents store company-sensitive information on their PDAs, half ow which without any sort of data protection. The survey also found that nearly one in four have had their PDA lost or stolen.

A new study of PDA users, however, points to a significant risk to companies, as large numbers of employees store company-sensitive information on the small, easily lost or stolen devices with virtually no security protection of any kind.

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 on a regular basis. Among the study's key findings:

  • 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 carry "somewhat valuable" or "extremely valuable" information on their PDA
  • 24% of respondents have experienced a loss or theft of at least one of their PDAs
  • 38% access their 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."

The 2004 United States PDA Business Usage Survey found that 37% of executive-level respondents supply PDAs to their employees as a basic productivity tool. Yet when asked what factors are most important to their companies when considering a PDA purchase, "security" ranked third (57%)—behind "price" and "ease-of-use".

Also evident in the 2004 United States PDA Business Usage Survey was the desire by PDA users for improved protection—despite a seeming lack of awareness about the seriousness of data loss. Seventy-seven percent of all respondents said they were "somewhat" or "extremely" comfortable storing sensitive data on their PDAs; yet 71% also said they would like to have log-in password protection on their devices. Another 70% said they would be "somewhat" or "extremely" interested in a security system for their PDA.

Other results included support for personal digital assistants that come bundled with security protection. Sixty-four percent of those responding said they would be willing to pay more for a PDA with a security system than one without.

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securing the corporate pda

kkbass @ 5/3/2004 8:01:33 PM #
Novell has had a product out for years that manages & secures pda & data.

It does palm of course, wince/ppc, rim, & they are expanding it to others.

No, it does not require a netware server (most novell products dont)

RE: securing the corporate pda
prcoen @ 5/3/2004 10:46:12 PM #
For those of you who might remember it, Zenworks for Handhelds started off life as Callisto Orbiter. Novell aquired Callisto in November 2001 or so.


just_little_me @ 5/8/2004 10:11:01 AM #
After quite a bit of research we're now using AppLock from Pocket Science in Australia to secure Palm handhelds (OS 5 only currently) in our environment. Works great.

No affiliation, just a happy customer. We are however still looking for a similar OS 4 app.


Not just in business world

apike @ 5/9/2004 8:37:00 PM #
This is happening in the education world too; people aren't taking data security seriously enough. A lot of high schools now store student data on handhelds, and many are simply asking that users enable the built-in password protection. I mean, unless they're using something like Principalm - - that encrypts everything, then addresses, schedules, grades, attendance, etc. can be available to thieves in an unencrypted form. This is a serious issue.

PDA Security

jeffmcfarland @ 2/10/2006 5:44:26 PM #
Trust Digital has also offered similar security software for some time.


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