‘Zombie phones’ cost US companies $5.4 million per year

We’ve written before about the money companies are wasting because they still pay for mobile devices that are no longer in use or are being used by people no longer with the company. Now a new report shows the number of those “zombie” devices is growing in businesses. 

When organizations decommission phones that had been issued to employees, about 10% of the time, something goes wrong in the process, according to mobile device management vendor Amtel. The result is what the company calls zombie phones, or devices the company thinks are dead but are still costing money.

The larger the company, the greater the likelihood those devices exist. For example, at one multinational firm audited by Amtel, 2% of the devices being paid for were found to be zombies. The total bill paid for those devices: $70,000 per year.

Top risks and causes

The impact of zombie phones is growing fast, according to a recent infographic assembled by iTAD Security. According to the company, the problem costs U.S. companies a total of $5.4 million per year.

It isn’t just the cost of the phone bills and the missing equipment that adds up to that number. Some of the other costs and risks include:

  • data breaches involving devices holding sensitive data which are no longer tracked and accounted for
  • software license violations due to applications running on those extra devices, and
  • former employees taking information from unwiped devices to the company’s competitors.

What can companies do about it? The best way is likely to use mobile device management (MDM) or other software to keep track of the devices. According to iTAD’s survey, most zombie devices (60%) simply go missing, while the rest are either known to be stolen (25%) or were probably stolen (15%).

In addition to tracking with software, it’s also a good idea to regularly conduct audits of phone bills to find any devices that are still being paid for when they shouldn’t be.