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Issue of November 2006 

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Survey shows lack of security concerns

A global third-party study commissioned by Cisco Systems reveals that while most remote workers claim they are aware of security issues, their behaviour which includes sharing work computers with non-employees, opening unknown e-mails, and hijacking neighbours wireless networks suggests otherwise. The study involved 1,000 teleworkers in 10 countries. The survey was executed in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, India, Australia, and Brazil.

The objective was to better understand how teleworkers perceptions and behaviour heighten security risks for the global network community, IT organisations and the businesses that they support. It also spotlights the challenge that behavioural and cultural tendencies create for IT security teams as more employees work outside the traditional domain. Whether they work at home, cyber cafe, or in a hotel, findings indicate that remote workers aggravate network security concerns because of a false sense of awareness.

In fact, while two of every three teleworkers surveyed (66 percent) claimed they were aware of security concerns when working remotely, many admitted behaviour that undermines and contradicts their awareness. Their reasons offer valuable insight for IT and security managers around the globe, initiating a need for higher, proactive relationships with end-users. The study revealed that more than one of every five remote workers surveyed (21 percent) allowed friends, family members or other non-employees to use his or her work computer to access the Internet. In China, more than two of every five (42 percent) admitted to sharing their work computers. While in Japan, more end-users share their work computers with others (13 percent) than those who use them for their own personal use (12 percent).

The reasons quoted for the same included statements such as “I don’t see anything wrong with it”; “My company doesn’t mind me doing so”; “I don’t think letting them use it increases security risks”; “I doubt my company would care”; and “Co-workers do it.”

In China, Italy, and Brazil, almost one of every five teleworkers admitted to accessing a neighbour’s wireless network when working from home. Although the global average was 11 percent, Germany (15 percent) and the United States (12 percent) joined China, Italy, and Brazil in eclipsing the worldwide mark.

One of every four remote worker surveyed (25 percent) said he or she opens unknown e-mails when using work devices. In China, more than half of the respondents (57 percent) admitted they open e-mails from unknown sources. Key finding reveals that in India, 20 percent of teleworkers said they open unknown e-mails and attachments, and in Brazil, 12 percent admitted doing so.

Only 29 percent of remote workers surveyed in the 10 countries admitted that they use their work computers for personal activities. However, 40 percent admitted that they use their work computers for online shopping. This discrepancy occurred in eight of the 10 countries (excluding China and India). For example, in the UK, only 27 percent admitted using their work computer for personal reasons, but 53 percent said they shop online when working remotely.

Reasons justified for the same were, “My company doesn’t mind me doing so”; “I would never get things done if I didn’t do them while at work”; “I doubt my company would care”; “Shopping online can’t result in security problems”; and “I think my work computer is more secure than my home computer.”

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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