These days, it's nearly impossible to turn on the TV and not see a commercial for the newest tablet on the market. In the last year and a half, tablets have gone from a virtual unknown to one of the most talked-about technologies both in consumer and enterprise sectors.
However, even as the tablet's popularity continues to soar, many tablet owners are failing to account for the security implications of the mobile device.
A new study from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business wing of Staples, found that 80 percent of tablet owners use their mobile devices for both work and personal entertainment. Of those, business benefits include increased productivity, greater communication and the convenience of having the Internet and email at their fingertips at all times.
The No. 1 advantage for owning a tablet, though, is portability. According to the study, more than 90 percent of surveyed tablet owners cited mobility as being a greater benefit than functionality. As such, tablet owners are taking their devices everywhere, including the office, to bed, restaurants and even the bathroom – as cited by 35 percent of respondents.
However, as the report noted, this increased portability opens doors to data security threats, especially for enterprise tablet owners. Fewer than 15 percent of tablet owners said they have installed antivirus or encryption software onto their tablets. Moreover, two-thirds do not back up the data stored on their devices.
The antivirus statistic may prove especially troubling as the tablet market continues to grow. New figures from research firm In-Stat show that Apple's iOS and Google's Android will account for a combined 90 percent of the global tablet market through 2017. The vulnerabilities of Android have been discussed far and wide, though they are usually surrounding smartphones running the mobile operating system.
However, the same concerns are there for Android-based tablets as well. This may be compounded by the fact that tablets tend to lend themselves better for work-related tasks than smartphones. As the Staples Advantage study showed, 60 percent of tablet owners think their tablets will eventually become their primary computing devices, while 95 percent say tablets supplement at least some of their computing needs.
Tablets undoubtedly have their advantages, and businesses should not be dissuaded from using the devices to enhance operations. However, a company must recognize that a new device presents new data protection challenges, and, therefore, it must plan accordingly.