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8/23/2007
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'Off-Network Data' Is Major Security Threat For Companies

A Ponemon study shows that a lot of data leakage is occurring on off-network devices, like laptops that leave the corporate confines.

A new study shows that 73% of companies have had a data loss in the past two years, but they've made only limited efforts to shore up their defenses and their protect data.

The study, which is being presented today at Harvard University's Privacy Symposium, reported that the majority of companies put their data at risk when devices like laptops and portable storage devices leave company walls.

"Protecting data that is stored on devices outside the confines and control of the corporate network is a problem for which many companies simply do not have a solution," said Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of the Ponemon Institute, in a statement. "Our research shows that, while most companies recognize the risk off-network data poses, few seem to have a grasp on how to manage the many challenges off-network data present to maintaining a strong data security program, and many do not even have a policy to address the situation."

According to Ponemon, the study showed that 62% of those surveyed said they are unsure if their off-network equipment contains unprotected sensitive or confidential information, while 39% do not view managing this equipment as a critical security step.

With recent security breaches at the likes of Boeing, the Veteran's Administration and the FBI making headlines, Ponemon reported that 70% of data breaches result from the loss of equipment that leaves the confines of the corporate environment and either heads out on the road with mobile workers or home with teleworkers.

And it's possible that the numbers are worse than reported since 30% said they would never detect the loss or theft of confidential data from off-network equipment.

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