Study highlights region’s vulnerability from misuse of personal devices

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asian workers are compromising security by using personal devices for work, making organizations in the region highly susceptible to cyber threats externally and internally, said VMware, a company specializing in cloud infrastructure and business mobility.

Some 65% of workers in Southeast Asia used their mobile devices to check work emails and 41% used them to access work files. Ron Goh, president of Southeast Asia and Korea at VMware, said that ASEAN workers do so because they do not trust corporate technology. Of those surveyed, 56% said corporate devices were not efficient as they “do not allow them to work seamlessly across devices,” unlike the flexibility offered by the consumer-based technologies used in their own devices, such as smartphones.

Thais and Indonesians used their personal devices most often for work, at 88% and 86% respectively. Other ASEAN countries are also guilty of this behavior: 79% of Malaysians and 71% of Singaporeans work via their own devices.

Such behavior could make ASEAN organizations more vulnerable to cyber security threats. Companies need to “safeguard themselves from risks that arise from the use of unapproved personal devices” by increasing the take-up rate of corporate-issued devices, Goh said.

The use of the same password across devices is also common among Southeast Asian workers, making it easier for hackers to breach companies’ systems and obtain private data about a person or company. More than a third of workers surveyed said that they frequently used the same password as they struggled to recall multiple passwords for different devices and applications.

At least 37% of Thais and 31% of Singaporeans use the same password for their devices. On the other hand, 32% Indonesians and 29% of Malaysians prefer to store their passwords on their own mobile devices.

To deter hackers and encourage workers to be more careful with passwords, Goh said that companies should provide a simplified IT environment, such as workspaces with single sign-ons and one-stop access to work apps. He cautioned that gaps in the digital workspace “need to be plugged as soon as possible” as they could blunt the region’s competitive edge and affect productivity. By Justina Lee, Nikkei staff writer


The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.