Report: Many employees use mobile devices for personal and business functions

More companies may be altering their policies that manage company wireless devices as mobile employees prefer to use them for both personal and business needs, according to a recent report from research firm Ovum.

Seventy percent of respondents said their companies allow them to use corporate devices for personal activities. Nearly half, 48 percent, said they can use their personally owned mobile devices to access company networks and business applications.

"Employees will want to use their devices, no matter who owns them, for both their work and personal lives," Ovum principal analyst and author of the report Graham Titterington said. "It is unrealistic to delineate between these uses for employees who are mobile and working out of the office for a large part of their time."

This may mean companies need to are change the way they manage company wireless devices. In order to control corporate wireless spend, businesses must cover a variety of mobile devices – namely smartphones and now tablet PCs.

The report also found that 90 percent of companies either already do or will provide employees with mobile devices for enterprise use. BlackBerry smartphones still outnumber all others, but there is a growing security concern among companies as employees begin using other devices for work.

Eighty percent of respondents believe mobile devices expose security vulnerabilities and cite data leakage as a top concern. That stems from the fear of employees mixing personal activities – social networking, web conferencing and media sharing, among others – with tasks related to work.

"That means organizations must establish a holistic security strategy that addresses the consumerization of this fast-growing channel into corporate networks and data," Titterington said.

Yet the report also found companies are not doing enough to protect corporate devices. Of the 52 percent of organizations that employ some form of authentication for mobile employees, nearly two-thirds, 62 percent, rely on a simple username and password. Only 18 percent use public key infrastructure certificates and just 9 percent have implemented two-factor authentication featuring one-time passwords.

Twenty-five percent use anti-virus and anti-malware solutions.

Deciphering means for dealing with various mobile devices is a relatively new challenge for companies. The BlackBerry from Research In Motion has been the preferred device, but Apple's iPhone and smartphones that run the Google Android mobile operating system are gaining traction. Devices running Apple's iOS led enterprise activations in September with 56 percent, according to a Good Technology report.