Remote workers suffer heightened anxiety over cybersecurity
The findings from Finish cyber security firm F-Secure show that 70% of remote workers worry about online security and privacy even if nothing is wrong. Comparably, only 58% of non-remote workers felt the same way.
F-Secure also found that 65% of those who work from home believe that the internet is becoming a more dangerous place – compared to 54% of office-based workers.
The research found that concerns about data privacy were also more prevalent among home workers (63%) than those who worked from an office (48%).
And the caution among remote workers didn’t just stop with desktop-based internet activity – with around three quarters of homeworking respondents stating that new internet connected devices – such as wearables and connected home appliances – could lead to a violation of their privacy. A lower percentage of their office-based colleagues felt the same way.
Senior lecturer in Cyberpsychology at Nottingham Trent University Lee Hadlington, who’s research interests include employees’ adherence to workplace cyber security practices, said that it made sense that people’s sudden shift to telecommuting increased their anxieties about online threats.
“Many individuals were thrust into the ‘new normal’ of home working with very little preparation, training, or equipment. Let’s not forget, for most individuals in a workplace environment, cyber security is generally a second thought, and is usually something that is seen as the responsibility of someone else in the company,”
“This, coupled with the fact that many home workers have less-than-perfect home working environments – desks in busy parts of the house, limited/poor internet connection, limited working knowledge of internet-based technology – means that these cyber security fears could be symptomatic of a combination of factors,” he said.
According to Hadlington, home-based workers may also have had more time to focus on other aspects of their working life and spent more time engaging in self-reflection and aspects of self-improvement.
“This could have included a re-assessment of cyber risks in their daily lives. The pandemic also meant people were isolated, with many turning to the one thing they did have access to – the internet. Of course, spending more time engaged in one activity could lead to an increase in perceptions of risk, particularly when people are being subjected to negative news stories about cyber security related issues,” Hadlington added.
According to F-Secure security consultant Tom Gaffney taking steps to keep people’s personal and professional lives separate while working remotely is key to managing this anxiety.
Gaffney said: “Steps everyone can take to secure themselves and their privacy when they work from home include updating their devices and software, ensuring their personal devices have security software installed, and some other basic infosec measures.”
“But keeping your personal and professional online activities separate from one another may be as important as any of these tips. Restricting what sort of things, you do on each device and during which times can be an essential way to ease digital anxiety.”
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