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Survey: Office workers still the greatest security threat

Sophos study reveals, however, that remote employees are becoming a bigger perceived network threat to businesses.

Businesses still consider desktop users to be the biggest security risk to their networks, despite increased concern over outsourced labor and remote users.

Sophos today revealed figures from its latest network security survey indicating that businesses still see office-bound employees as those most likely to expose their networks to IT threats.

Such users were considered the greatest threat to security by 44 percent of respondents.

While office-bound employees have consistently topped the list of those thought most likely to compromise network security in past surveys, they have lost some ground to remote and mobile employees, who are considered to be a greater security threat by 31 percent of respondents.

Other users considered to be a threat to network security include contractors and outsourced labor, at 14 percent, and guests, at 11 percent.

Sophos' head of technology, Paul Ducklin, said, "This is a representation of how common telecommuting and remote working has become," to the extent that half of those in the office are also remote workers.

"The obvious thing we can draw from the results is that administrators haven't become complacent about desktop security," Ducklin said.

Ducklin also pointed out that while some organizations employ a "stricter regimen for outside than inside," the physical risks to equipment associated with mobile users--such as the loss of or damage to a laptop--are unavoidable.

The gap between desktop-based and remote users is also being closed as a result of the increased use of mobile-storage devices, such as USB keys, which can contain data that may have been transferred from any number of sources onto a network.

"Administrators are realizing that the risks exist wherever you use your computer," Ducklin added.

Marcus Browne of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.