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GCHQ: ban smartphones from offices for better security

Businesses have been advised to get rid of staff smartphones to reduce risk of cyber attacks

Mobile phone with open padlock image

GCHQ has recommended that organisations remove employee smartphones and memory sticks to better protect against cyber attacks.

GCHQ calls staff the "weakest link in the security chain," reports The Telegraph, with action against such risks desperately needed. It has thus urged businesses to strip staff of smartphones, as warn employees to only use trusted Wi-Fi networks.

The advice comes from the CESG information security arm of GCHQ's '10 Step to Cyber Security' guidance report, which was created with the Cabinet Office, Business Department and Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure.

Part of the government's effort to fight against cyber terrorism is to push for UK businesses to be more aware and take more precautions against possible threats, after the Prime Minister labelled such cyber attacks as "one of the biggest modern threats that we face."

Specific advice includes telling companies to monitor all user activity within their business, making sure that staff are aware "any abuse of the organisation's security policies will result in disciplinary action."

Taking smartphones away from employees is also mentioned with the advice for bosses to "assess business requirements for user access to input/output devices and removable media (this could include MP3 players and smart phones)".

"Some users will have to work in public open spaces where they are vulnerable to being observed when working on their mobile device, potentially compromising personal or sensitive commercial information or their user credentials," it continues.

The rise in popularity of employees using their own devices for work purposes has meant that the number of people conducting business over less secure connections, such as in coffee shops, has also increased.

A recent government study revealed the slightly startling fact that only 16 per cent of SMBs in the UK currently consider cyber security to be a priority for them. This contrasts with the 33 per cent of SMBs that were actually hit with a cyber attack in 2014, according to the Cyber Streetwise campaign.

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