daimler.peter schneider.automotiveIT

As workers' business and private lives merge, Daimler needs to allow private enduser devices for business use, CTO Schneider said last year (Photo: automotiveIT)

Managers of German companies worry that the growing business use of iPads, tablet PCs and smartphones is shaping up to become a major data-security risk.

A recent survey of  executives at large and mid-sized German companies found that 76 pc of them are worried about cyber attacks on their employees' devices. A data-security solution for this is essential, they say.

Like other major industrial companies, automakers and suppliers are all putting in place policies to deal with the use of private end devices for business purposes.

Daimler is one of the few to explain how it is dealing with the issue. At last year's automotiveDAY conference, the company's CTO, Peter Schneider, explained how the carmaker has decided to adopt a dual approach to mobile end-user devices in recognition of the diversity of its employees.

As privately owned devices are used increasingly for business purposes, Daimler will allow these devices to carry a limited amount of company data and will give them access to a few company software applications.

At the same time, the company has developed a policy for company owned devices, which will allow full integration in Daimler’s IT infrastructure without limitations. These devices, however, will only have a few applications for use in private life.

The most recent management survey on the issue was carried out by the National Initiative for Information and Internet Security (NIFIS), an independent association that wants to address data security issues in Germany.

The poll found that 58 pc of managers interviewed felt companies should not allow employees to access sensitive company data on their own mobile devices. About 30 pc said IT departments should have "complete control" over all iPads, tablets and smartphones that are used for business purposes.

Despite these concerns, only 12 pc of executives polled advocated a total ban on the use of privately owned devices. Instead, many said they wanted clear rules for their use.

"Managers rightly expect clear regulations for the use of mobile devices in the context of their professional activity," NIFIS Chairman Thomas Lapp said in a press release.