November 6, 2020
80 percent of companies say that an increased cybersecurity risk caused by human factors has posed a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in times of heightened stress. This is according to Cyberchology: The Human Element, a new report that explores the role employees and their personality play in keeping organisations safe from cyber threats.
Cyberchology research investigates the attitudes of 2,000 consumers and over 100 Chief Information Security Officers in the UK, with psychological research examining the link between cybersecurity, personality, and stress in a virtual world. Cyberchology is a partnership that has been running since 2019 between IT security professionals, ESET, and business psychology providers, The Myers-Briggs Company.
The report claims that 75 percent of companies say that half of their business is being undertaken by employees who are now working remotely – but weren’t doing so before COVID-19, showing a highly dispersed current workforce. With CISOs reporting a 63 percent increase in cybercrime since the COVID-19 lockdown began, and remote working here to stay for many employees, businesses are more at risk than ever.
Meanwhile, the report also claims that over two thirds of consumers were concerned about their cybersecurity but didn’t know what to do about it, and nearly half of respondents were concerned about their ability to manage stress during the pandemic. Stress affects different personality types in different ways, meaning that each individual employee has their own specific blind spot when it comes to cybersecurity.
As the pandemic has raised stress levels, staff members may be more likely to panic and click on a malicious link, or fail to report a security breach to the IT team, depending on their personality type. The paper therefore encourages businesses to implement a holistic cybersecurity strategy that takes individual personalities into account.
“A global climate of stress and concern is a perfect breeding ground for a successful cyberattack”
Discussing the findings of the Cyberchology paper, Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET, stated: “Remote working has brought greater flexibility to the workforce, but has also dramatically altered business processes and systems. The combination of fractured IT systems, a lack of central security, the sudden shift to home working, and a global climate of stress and concern is a perfect breeding ground for a successful cyberattack. The fact that only a quarter of businesses have faith in their own remote working strategy is shocking, and shows there is much work to be done to secure working from home.”
John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, commented: “Cybersecurity has long been thought of as the responsibility of IT departments alone, but in order to build a holistic cybersecurity strategy that accounts for the human factor, IT and HR departments must work together. Through the use of psychometric testing and self-awareness tools, HR can help to identify the makeup of teams and pinpoint potential vulnerabilities. IT teams can use this insight to create comprehensive security protocols and a proactive cyber strategy to stay one step ahead of potential threats.”
Image by TheDigitalWay