The rise in the mobile workforce and increased use of social media and cloud computing have created significant security concerns for organizations, according to a recent study from Ernst & Young.

The report, “Borderless Security: Ernst & Young’s 2010 Global Information Security Survey,” found that 60 percent of the businesses surveyed perceive increased risk from the use of social networking, cloud computing and personal mobile devices at work.

The report, based on a survey of nearly 1,600 senior executives in 56 countries, takes an in-depth look at the challenges posed by new technologies used by an organization’s workforce and the difficulties of trying to protect information while operating in a virtual business environment. As these changes bring new risks, the survey also examined how organizations are adapting and addressing their information security needs.

According to the survey, respondents view the most serious risk associated with mobile computing as the potential loss of business information, with 52 percent seeing the use of personal devices as the main cause of data leakage. In addition, 53 percent of respondents indicated that workforce mobility is a considerable challenge to effectively delivering information security solutions.

What’s more, 92 percent of survey participants viewed employee awareness of security as a challenge, as the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce change the way companies support and protect the flow of information.

Also of note, 85 percent of those surveyed said that external certification of cloud service providers would help them evaluate security controls and increase their trust.

The survey found that 45 percent of organizations are currently using, evaluating or planning to use cloud computing services within the next 12 months. The risks associated with cloud computing include data leakage, with 52 percent identifying it as the largest associated risk, followed by 39 percent who cited the lost visibility of company data as an increased risk of cloud-based solutions. 

“Organizations are operating in a world that requires borderless security,” said Bernie Wedge, Americas Information Technology Risk and Assurance practice leader at Ernst & Young. “The trend toward anywhere, anytime access to information has significantly changed today’s business environment. Information access by employees using mobile devices, or items that are maintained and accessed by customers, vendors, or other business partners, are considered outside traditional borders. Therefore, companies must think about security beyond their employees, data centers and firewalls.”

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