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Returning to the Office May Increase Cybersecurity Risks

Cybersecurity at work

The Covid-19 pandemic has lead a dramatic rise in remote working both in the UK and across the globe. The shift to working from home has changed many of our workplace habits, although not always in a positive way.

A recent report from email security software company Tessian has revealed that many home office workers have become complacent about protecting their security while online. The report states that over one-third (36%) of polled home workers developed bad cybersecurity habits and found ways to circumvent their company’s existing cybersecurity measures.

Over 50% of Employees Developed Bad Cybersecurity Habits

Almost half of the people surveyed said that they adopted less cautious online behaviour simply because they felt that their IT department was not keeping as close an eye on them. Even more concerning is that over a quarter of people working in the home environment admitted to compromising company security. These security breaches largely went unreported, as employees feared disciplinary reprisals or did not want to undertake additional cybersecurity training.

Many stakeholders remain optimistic despite these figures. Over 70% of IT leaders believe that employees will once again adopt best cybersecurity practices once they are back in the office. But it doesn’t take much to cause cybersecurity at work to fail.

Increasing Cybersecurity Concerns

Returning workers may increase the risk of cybersecurity breaches. There are concerns that returning employees will also bring back devices that are infected with malware, trojans, or viruses. Some 40% of employees stated that they would be bringing personal devices back into the office with them.

There is also a growing threat from phishing emails. The number of suspect emails linked to hybrid work practices has been 39% higher than other office-connected online scams since mid-May. Additionally, an estimated 69% of IT leaders expressed concerns about the rising risks of ransomware attacks.

Hybrid Working Poses New IT Challenges

Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, admits that the shift to remote working has been challenging for IT leaders. He warns that the associated cybersecurity risks will increase as workers transition to a hybrid working model.

“Employees are the gatekeepers to data and systems but expecting them to be security experts and scaring them into compliance won’t work. IT leaders need to prioritise building a security culture that empowers people to work securely and productively and understand how to encourage long-lasting behavioural change over time if they’re going to thrive in this new way of working.” Mr Sadler stated.

The Tessian Security Behaviours Report was conducted in May 2021 by OnePoll. 4,000 employees and 200 IT professionals in the US and the UK were surveyed.

If you are concerned about cybersecurity risks in your business, consider enrolling staff in a cybersecurity risk management course. The GDPR Awareness and Data Security Training offered by Human Focus. We can provide your staff with a complete data privacy skillset and help you to stay safe from cyber-attacks.

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Simon Morrison
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