Data protection: Mobile working leaves secret company information exposed to snoopers

One-third of workers have sneaked a preview of sensitive company information on laptops or confidential work documents while travelling on trains, a survey has revealed.

A survey by flexible working provider Regus out this week also found that more than two-thirds of Brits travelling on business have eavesdropped on someone else’s confidential business conversation, because of the rise in working while on the move or in public places.

The news comes just days after secret government documents on al-Qa’eda and Iraq were left on a train and handed to the BBC, which itself follows several cases where public sector employees’ laptops containing sensitive information have been lost or stolen.

The report claims that 10% of the eavesdroppers admit to using this information for their own business purposes.

The international study of 1,000 respondents in the UK and US also revealed that remote working has led to a growing professional culture where business is conducted in strange and inappropriate locations.

One in six have resorted to working from toilets, more than half in pubs and almost two-thirds in busy restaurants, for example.

Kurt Mroncz, Regus UK sales and marketing director, said: “From a dangerous lack of privacy to difficult and absurd working environments, business travellers are often put in impossible positions as they try to carry out their professional role.”

David Porter, head of security and risk at specialist business and technology consultancy Detica, added: “These findings point to a significant vulnerability in British corporate security. The growing tide of professionals expected to work ‘on the hoof’ without proper support, is putting the UK’s prized corporate intellectual property, trade secrets and deals at risk.”

Other survey findings:

  • Almost half of travelling British professionals now spend at least half a day per week or more working in a public place
  • Just under half face the dilemma of needing a private place to make phone calls, or use proper office facilities, when travelling with work.

Strange workplaces of workers on the move

  • 16% have worked from toilets and public bathrooms
  • 51% have worked from bars or pubs
  • 65% have worked from busy restaurants
  • 60% have worked from planes or trains
  • 58% have worked from hotel lobbies
  • 57% have worked from car parks
  • 46% have worked from shopping centres
  • 35% have worked from a park or outdoor area
  • 12% have worked from a gym

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