Trend Micro finds 72% of Remote Workers have gained Cybersecurity Awareness during Lockdown

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Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, today released survey results that show how remote workers address cybersecurity. Nearly three quarters (72%) of remote workers say they are more conscious of their organisation’s cybersecurity policies since lockdown began, but many are breaking the rules anyway due to limited understanding or resource constraints.

Trend Micro’s Head in the Clouds study is distilled from interviews with 13,200 remote workers across 27 countries, including 500 in Malaysia, on their attitudes towards corporate cybersecurity and IT policies. It reveals that there has never been a better time for companies to take advantage of heightened employee cybersecurity awareness. The survey reveals that the approach businesses take to training is critical to ensure secure practices are being followed.

The results indicate a high level of security awareness, with 91% of respondents claiming they take instructions from their IT team seriously, and 88% agree that cybersecurity within their organisation is partly their responsibility. Additionally, 74% acknowledge that using non-work applications on a corporate device is a security risk.

However, just because most people understand the risks does not mean they stick to the rules.

For example:

  • 42% of respondents confess to using their work laptop for personal browsing, and only 38% of them fully restrict the sites they visit.
  • 69% of respondents access personal emails on their work laptops, and 47% access their personal social media accounts
  • 39% of respondents say they often or always access corporate data from a personal device – almost certainly breaking corporate security policy. 7% of respondents admit to watching / accessing porn on their work laptop, and 6% access the dark web via their work laptop.
  • 19 % of employees admit to using a non-work application on a corporate device, and more than one-third of them have uploaded corporate data to that application

Productivity still wins out over protection for many users. A third of respondents (34%) agree that they do not give much thought to whether the apps they use are sanctioned by IT or not, as they just want the job done. Additionally, 30% think they can get away with using a non-work application, as the solutions provided by their company are ‘nonsense.’

Dr Linda K. Kaye, Cyberpsychology Academic at Edge Hill University, England explains: “There are a great number of individual differences across the workforce. This can include individual employee’s values, accountability within their organisation, as well as aspects of their personality, all of which are important factors which drive people’s behaviours. To develop more effective cybersecurity training and practices, more attention should be paid to these factors. This, in turn, can help organisations adopt more tailored or bespoke cybersecurity training with their employees, which may be more effective.”

Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director for Trend Micro Malaysia, says: “It’s really heartening to see that so many people take the advice from their corporate IT team seriously, although you have to wonder about the one in ten people who don’t… At the same time those people also accept their own role in the human firewall of any organisation. The problem area seems to be translating that awareness into concrete behaviour. To reinforce this, organisations to take into account the diversity across the organisation and tailor training to identify and address these distinct behavioural groups. The time to do this is now, to take advantage of the new working environment and people’s newfound recognition of the importance of information security.”

The Head in the Clouds study looks into the psychology of people’s behaviour in terms of cybersecurity, including their attitudes towards risk. It presents several common information security “personas” with the aim of helping organisations tailor their cybersecurity strategy in the right way for the right employee.

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