Don’t Click That Link! How Remote Workers are Putting Their Companies at Risk (and What You Can Do About It)

(BPT) - Americans are more concerned about cybersecurity than ever before, according to a new survey conducted by Unisys Corporation. In fact, concerns around internet security rose by 16 percent in 2020, the highest it’s been in the 15-year history of the Unisys Security Index™. Despite these heightened concerns, many working Americans are disregarding their company security processes.

Downloading unauthorized apps or software

Nearly 60% of those surveyed are bypassing their IT department to download unauthorized apps or software to improve their productivity, communication, and collaboration at work. Many of these employees feel that the apps and tools they downloaded are better than the tools provided by their company — or that their company simply doesn’t offer any helpful tools.

“With the hybrid workforce here to stay, these findings shine a light on the need to balance productivity and collaboration tools with security,” said Leon Gilbert, senior vice president for Digital Workplace Solutions at Unisys. “Most people probably don’t understand the security risks of what they’re doing when they go around their IT department, but it shows how important it is for organizations to provide a good digital experience – giving your employees access to the software, apps and collaboration platforms they need to do their jobs, regardless of where they are working.”

To combat the security risks this causes, companies need to focus on providing their employees with the tools they need to strike the right balance between productivity and security. This starts with listening and learning about how your employees prefer to work, especially in hybrid and remote work environments.

Throwing cybersecurity caution to the wind

The survey identified a widespread lack of consumer awareness on avoiding and addressing online threats. More than half of Americans are not wary of clicking on suspicious links in email or text, despite phishing attacks accounting for more than 80% of reported security incidents.

With remote and hybrid work changing the threat landscape, employers can no longer rely on the closed environment of the office workspace or a once-a-year security training to effectively guard against cybersecurity threats. As a result, a robust, continual training program is now more important than ever, and it should be personal to the employee and his or her family.

Lack of cyber threat awareness

Part of the reason people are downloading unauthorized software or clicking on suspicious links may be because they are not familiar with the cyber risks. For example, 62% of survey respondents said they are not familiar with the threat of SMS phishing, which is when a scammer texts someone to ask for personal or financial information, and more than 70% do not know where to report a cyberattack if victimized.

Even though cyberattacks are constantly in the headlines, the average user is likely experiencing fatigue from hearing about such data breaches. People are more likely to stop taking security risks seriously and this puts businesses at greater risk. Without the proper network defenses, one click from an employee could cause major damage to a company’s network — putting all its data and assets at risk.

It’s important for organizations to embrace a holistic security strategy that provides greater visibility across IT and cloud environments. A proactive approach is also needed to address any gaps, while the right security controls can help further protect your data from the risk of human error or worse, from hackers. For more information about the survey findings, or how you can better protect your company, visit unisyssecurityindex.com.

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