Photo - Ivan Wen, Country Manager, Blue Coat Malaysia
According to a new study, Malaysian office workers, in common with a global pattern among employees, are not changing their behaviour in the face of increasing cyber threats, said enterprise security firm Blue Coat Systems.
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Blue Coat Malaysia country manager Ivan Wen said: "The dichotomy between the awareness and actions of the employees found in this research should trouble businesses all over the world. While IT professionals try to prevent cyber-attacks occurring, their colleagues' behaviour is jeopardising employers' cyber security and ultimately their jobs."
Wen said the global survey, conducted for Blue Coat independently by Vanson Bourne, noted a significant disconnect between employees' action and awareness of cyber threats with behaviour that included surfing adult content and downloading unapproved apps.
The global research study of 1580 respondents across 11 countries showed that pornography continued 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 percent, China has the worst record for viewing adult content sites on a work device, with Mexico (10 percent) and the UK (nine percent) not far behind."
Wen said that in Singapore, 37 percent of respondents used new applications without IT's permission, compared to 22 percent in China and Korea, and just 14 percent in Australia.
"In addition, 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," he said.
Wen said the majority of the survey participants around the world said they understood the obvious cyber threats when downloading email attachments from an unknown sender, or using social media and unapproved apps from corporate networks without permission, "but knowing this, did not curb their risk-taking."
He said that other findings include:
- Although 65 percent of global respondents view using a new application without the IT department's consent as a serious cyber-security risk to the business, 26 percent admitted doing so.
- Obvious risks such as opening emails from unverified senders still happen at work. Nearly one out of three (29 percent) of Chinese employees open email attachments from unverified senders, even though nearly three out of four (72 percent) see it as a serious risk, whereas Korean (63 percent) businesses view the threat less seriously yet open far less unsolicited emails, at 11 percent.
- Nearly two out of five employees globally (41 percent) use social media sites for personal reasons at work - a serious risk to businesses, as cyber criminals hide malware on shortened links and exploit encrypted traffic to deliver payloads.
- While globally, six percent of respondents still admitted viewing adult content on work devices, China ranked the highest with nearly one in five (19 percent) employees admitting to viewing adult content at work, compared to Singapore and Australia at five percent and two percent respectively.
Wen added that cyber criminals continuously research employees' social profiles to find personal information that can be used to penetrate organisations with pointed phishing attacks.
"The consumerisation of IT and social media carry mixed blessings to enterprises," he said. "It is no longer feasible to prevent employees from using them, so businesses need to find ways to support these technology choices while simultaneously mitigating the security risks."
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