By Daniel Hunter

European small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are exposing themselves to high risk of corporate data leaks with a lack of understanding from the IT department around mobile device management and lackadaisical employees.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of UK employees would omit from telling their IT department about the theft or loss of a company owned device within an hour of its loss, leaving the business at unnecessary risk of a potential data breach.

New research by TNS for Kaspersky Lab which questioned European SMEs shows that, in spite of the recognised risk, 29 per cent of IT managers believe it would take an entire working day to be informed. 25 per cent said it would take employees at least half a working day to get round to telling them.

Worryingly these results show that if a corporate notebook, tablet or smartphone gets stolen, thieves may have several hours to access the data on it before the IT department is able to take preventative measures. This provides more than enough time for a cybercriminal to siphon off sensitive business data, harvest contact details, read corporate e-mails and even log into personal online accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) and change the passwords.

Despite a third of the European SMEs surveyed recognising that the loss or theft of a smartphone could seriously compromise business integrity, only 35 per cent of IT managers agreed that data encryption was a better method of protection than a simple password. Alarmingly, 54 per cent of those surveyed believed that a password alone provides just as much protection for sensitive data as encryption.

This lack of understanding is a real concern as businesses both large and small see flexible working and mobile devices as a staple of the modern workplace. Greater recognition of the potential risks associated with poor mobile device management is clearly needed.

“The ever-growing abilities of mobile devices make our lives much easier”, says David Emm, senior security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

“However, what we don’t always consider, is the ease with which such tools can be stolen, leaving a wealth of business critical information in the hands of thieves. To a seasoned cybercriminal, it will take only a matter of minutes to by-pass the four digit password protection used on most devices, especially smartphones.

"If your mobile device is lost or stolen, it is critical that the IT department is informed as fast as possible. They can then block access of this device to the corporate network and, in the best case, wipe all of its data.”

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