Workers still visiting porn sites at work despite security risks: Study

  • Survey highlights disconnect between employees’ actions and awareness
  • Surfing adult content and downloading unapproved apps are top cyber-risk actions
Workers still visiting porn sites at work despite security risks: Study

WORKERS continue to visit inappropriate websites while at work despite typically being fully aware of the risks to their companies, according to a Blue Coat Systems Inc global research study of 1,580 respondents across 11 countries.
 
There is a global trend of employees ignoring cyber-risks while at work, the company said in a statement.
 
“The dichotomy between the awareness and actions of the employees found in this research should trouble businesses all over the world,” said Blue Coat Malaysia country manager Ivan Wen.
 
“While IT professionals try to prevent cyber-attacks occurring, their colleagues’ behaviour is jeopardising employers’ cyber-security, and ultimately their jobs,” he added.
 
The Blue Coat research shows that pornography continues to be one of the most popular methods of hiding malware or malicious content.
 
Even though awareness is high of the threat posed by adult content sites, workers are still visiting these potentially dangerous sites.
 
At 19%, China has the worst record for viewing adult content sites on a work device, with Mexico (10%) and the United Kingdom (9%) not far behind.
 
In Singapore, 37% of respondents used new applications without IT’s permission, compared with 22% in China and South Korea, and just 14% in Australia.
 
“This risky behaviour can leave both sensitive corporate and personal data open to being stolen and used immediately, stored for future use, or sold into a thriving black market where compromised corporate and personal identities are traded globally,” said Wen.
 
Survey highlights
 
Blue Coat’s research, conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne, showed that the majority of global survey participants admitted understanding the obvious cyber-threats when downloading email attachments from an unknown sender, or using social media and unapproved apps from corporate networks without permission.
 
However, knowing this did not curb their risk-taking, Blue Coat said in its statement. Other findings include:

  • Although 65% of global respondents view using a new application without the IT department’s consent as a serious cyber-security risk to the business, 26% admitted doing so.
  • Obvious risks such as opening emails from unverified senders still happen at work. Nearly one out of three (29%) of Chinese employees open email attachments from unverified senders, even though nearly three out of four (72%) see it as a serious risk, whereas South Korean (63%) businesses view the threat less seriously yet open far less unsolicited emails, at 11%.
  • About two out of five employees globally (41%) use social media sites for personal reasons at work – a serious risk to businesses, as cybercriminals hide malware on shortened links and exploit encrypted traffic to deliver payloads.
  • Globally, 6% of respondents still admitted viewing adult content on work devices, with China ranking the highest with nearly one in five (19%) employees admitting to viewing adult content at work, compared with Singapore and Australia at 5% and 2% respectively.
  • One source of cyber-threats is the practice of phishing. Cybercriminals continuously conduct extensive research on employees’ social profiles to find information that can be used to attack organisations. For example, an attacker may create a seemingly personalised email targeted at an IT administrator for a large enterprise using information found on social media profiles, such as the recipient’s alma mater or favourite sports team. That email may contain malware that is downloaded once the recipient clicks on a link included in the document.

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