Our latest report reveals the danger at the heart of British business.
Whenever we carry out our annual IT survey the results never cease to amaze me.
Whether it’s one in five businesses using ‘Password’ as their password (yes really – that was 2013’s big revelation) to eight out of ten of companies citing poor public Wi-Fi as their biggest frustration (2014).
Our 2015 Lifeline IT trends survey ‘The Cyber Threat within the UK’s Workplace’, is no exception.
We found a third of UK workers knowingly flaunt their companies’ IT policy, leaving open a cyber-gateway to fraud and other ‘virtual’ dangers.
And yet as a nation, we are apparently much more careful when we are using IT for personal reasons.
It’s our fifth annual independent IT trends survey and we canvassed opinions from over a thousand workers.
The results show that one of the biggest threats of cyber-attacks, harmful viruses and fraud for employers actually comes from their own workforce, who often ignore IT policies.
Only 42% of workers know what their company’s IT policy is, while nearly a third admitted they weren’t even sure if their employer had one, and a quarter said there wasn’t one in place.
As experts in cyber security we always ensure our clients have the right IT policy in place and help them to educate their workforce.
Our survey also showed that even when there is a policy in place almost two in 10 workers admitted visiting restricted worksites and going on social media, while 13% downloaded non-work related items such as YouTube clips and10% circulated prohibited material including emoticons.
More seriously, an alarming one in 10 said they had altered their computer settings, including removing firewalls, to gain greater access to the internet and two per cent have even opened quarantined or spam emails.
This is the cyber equivalent of leaving the backdoor open and inviting burglars, fraudsters or those with infectious diseases into your home!
It can’t be ignorance on the part of employees as the irony is when it comes to using their own personal IT equipment, over two-thirds of respondents claimed to be ‘really careful’ about security, with more than 60% saying they regularly updated anti-virus software and firewalls.
And, nearly four in ten also changed their password at least once a quarter whilst almost half only bought products online using a secure payment portal such as PayPal or a banking chip and pin reader.
The conclusion has to be that the majority of people are security conscious about IT on the home-front but have a different attitude at work.
But at the end of the day, it’s up to the bosses to ensure that employees also realise how crucial it is in the work place, after all it’s everyone’s livelihood that’s at stake.
Also, and yes I know we go on about this, it’s not just in the office – employers also need to consider how secure their remote IT is, as more people than ever work while on the move or from home.
Especially as our survey found that over two-thirds worked from home at some point, with nearly one in ten logging on most evenings and weekends.
And two-thirds of those used their own personal computer to carry out their work, with just under a quarter having a work laptop, which again has implications on security as they could be spreading virus to and fro.
Over a quarter logged in via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a remote desktop to access work systems which is the right way to go.
Yet just under a third admitted they kept work information on their personal equipment, including laptop, phone or tablet.
Basically, if your IT security isn’t in place across all devices that employees use then it’s an open invitation to hackers and fraudsters.
The ‘The Cyber Threat within the UK’s Workplace’ report overall gives a fascinating insight into the whole issue of work place security and you will be able to download the report free from this website in the near future.
By Daniel Mitchell, May 2015