The results of a recent survey – carried out by Freeform Dynamics and published this week on The Register newswire – highlights the rising levels of sophistication amongst an increasingly tech-savvy computer user base.

The results of the survey confirm what I’m hearing my clients, both in the SME, as well as in corporate-land.

The fact that around 55% of the survey’s respondents said the main driver pushing them to encrypt their data was regulatory, with around 35% saying an increasingly mobile workforce is the reason, indicates the changing IT landscape we are all experiencing.

And no more is this so when you realise that 24% of respondents said they were encrypting their data as the result of a security breach.

One of the most interesting aspects of the survey is the response to the question “In an ideal world, which of the following should be encrypted,” in which around 50% of people said that notebooks AND desktops should – ideally – be protected in a remote branch environment.

That percentile rose to around 70% when desktops and notebooks in a home environment were involved.

Whilst you would expect the 80%-plus saying that notebooks on their own should be encrypted, the fact that so many of the 383 people surveyed were clearly aware of the need to encrypt – and on a desktop PC – is a powerful reflection that the security message about encryption is finally getting through to a sizeable audience.

This is excellent news. The Freeform Dynamics report also made the interesting observation that the difference between the ideal world and reality – as reported by the survey respondents – is still quite large one, indicating that there is still some way to go before the message about encryption reaches a majority audience.

The obvious message here is that whilst IT professionals are aware of the need for encryption on both desktop and portable devices, it still has not permeated out into management of companies, as well as their staff.

This is especially true when you realise that the bulk of the respondents to the survey are probably a vociferous large minority of the IT user base on the Internet, meaning that a lot of Internet users are probably blissfully unaware of the real need.

It also saddens me to see that more than 20% of survey respondents cited cost as a factor stopping them from encrypting the data held on the notebook of mobile workers. Add in the fact that around 33% said they thought there were practical issues with encrypting data on notebooks.