New research has found that 70 per cent of IT security administrators currently do not use data encryption to secure business laptops, and 87 per cent of organisations do not encrypt USB or portable media devices.

The findings, of a global survey by Internet security firm Check Point Software, indicate that enterprises are struggling to keep up with the escalating mobile and wireless computing trend.

The trend means that a majority of businesses are potentially vulnerable to unauthorised network access from lost or stolen devices.

The Check Point survey was conducted in September 2010, surveying more than 220 IT security administrators located in the Americas, the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.

It found that 64 per cent of organisations are concerned that the growth in remote users will result in exposure to sensitive data.

Mobility way of life

Check Point Software Technologies vice president of endpoint products Ben Khoushy said, in an announcement, that mobile computing and the consumerisation of IT was no longer a trend but a way of life for most businesses.

"Employees and contractors are demanding more access to business applications and data from both corporate and personally-owned devices," said Khoushy.

"Many organisations haven't set up an appropriate plan to secure the use of personal laptops and smartphones in the workplace. These vulnerabilities need to be addressed by a combination of technology and user awareness that enforce better security protections to secure data on-the-go."

Check Point's research also reveals that organisations are using an average of nine different vendors to secure their organisation's infrastructure from the network to the endpoint. This is creating difficulties in security management, particularly for businesses with 500-plus employees.

Check Point says companies combining more than a dozen distinct security solutions are left with large infrastructures, often creating security holes in between point products.

The survey found that IT security administrators are anticipating a significant increase in 2011 in the number of users connecting to their network, with 54 per cent citing specific growth in the number of remote users.

Increasing complexity challenges

The statement said Check Point's research shows that, as organisations continue to grow, IT administrators are increasingly challenged with securing mobile data and complex IT environments - citing data loss, user management, lost or stolen equipment, and employees connecting to untrusted wireless Internet access as top concerns.

In anticipation of continued growth of the mobile workforce, Check Point says 52 per cent of organisations reported they have VPN clients on their portable PCs and intend to deploy disk encryption (23 per cent), encrypted USBs (20 per cent) and data loss protection (17 per cent) in the coming year.

Also, 54 per cent of businesses are planning to migrate to Microsoft Windows 7 within the next two years.

"In effect, businesses are looking to unify endpoint security and make sure new systems are updated with the latest protections," the statement said.