Employee cybersecurity only getting worse as digitised workplace grows

cybersecurityNew research suggests as the supposed ‘technologically savvy’ millennials enter the workforce they are more likely than older workers to break the most basic of security rule, reusing passwords across different accounts. This is according to the results of the 10th Annual Market Pulse Survey from SailPoint Technologies Holdings, which finds that despite an increased focus on cybersecurity awareness in the workplace, employees’ poor cybersecurity habits are getting worse, which is compounded by the speed and complexity of the digital transformation. Of the 1,600 global employees surveyed, 75 percent of respondents admitted to reusing passwords across accounts, including work and personal, compared to 56 percent who admitted to doing so in 2014 and this increased to 87 percent among 18–25 year-olds. This has not only introduced more risk, but also a sense of frustration between the IT team trying to secure and enable the business and users who want to work more efficiently. Over half (55 percent) of survey respondents stated their IT department can be a source of inconvenience in their organsation. This leads to employees skirting IT policies, such as the 31 percent who admitted that they have deployed software without IT’s help (i.e. ‘Shadow IT’).

Efforts to get around IT may not necessarily be done with malicious intent, but the reality is they directly increase IT risk for the organisation. For example, 13 percent of employees admitted they would not immediately notify their IT department if they thought they had been hacked. Further compounding this issue is a workforce that tends not to understand the role of all employees in keeping an organisation secure, as 49 percent of respondents would actually blame the IT department for a cyberattack if one occurred as a result of an employee being hacked.  

However, it’s not just today’s employees exposing organisations to risk. As the digital transformation blurs the traditional security perimeter with cloud apps, it is also redefining the definition of a “user.” Enterprises are increasingly adopting software bots powered by robotic process automation (RPA), and granting them access to mission-critical applications and data, like their human counterparts. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents are currently using or planning to use chatbots and artificial intelligence personal assistants, with more than one tenth (13 percent) already using these in their organisation to increase their work efficiency.

“To secure and enable today’s modern workforce, the users have become the new ‘security perimeter’ and their digital identities are the common link across an organisation’s IT ecosystem at every stage of its digital transformation,” said Juliette Rizkallah, CMO, SailPoint.

For more key findings, view the infographic, Balancing Efficiency and Security in Today’s Enterprises.