#InfosecurityEurope: Cost-of-Living Crisis Drives Insider Threat Concerns

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Nearly half (47%) of UK business leaders believe their organization has been at a greater risk of attack since the start of the cost-of-living crisis.

Surging inflation and interest rates, and high energy bills, are eroding household disposable income, even as wages rise for many.

Yet a new survey of 1000 senior SME leaders by CyberSmart found that 29% had not raised salaries at all, meaning they are declining in real terms when inflation is taken into account. A further 11% said they’d actually reduced salaries, a quarter (24%) have paused recruitment and 16% have laid off employees for financial reasons.

Against this backdrop, many SME business leaders are understandably worried about the impact on employees. Of those who think their organization is more exposed to attack, 38% believe it’s due to malicious insiders and 35% to overworked and distracted staff making mistakes.

Read more on the insider threat: Critical Infrastructure Firms Concerned Over Insider Threat.

A quarter (24%) of respondents said staff are “overwhelmed or concerned” about their finances and nearly a fifth (18%) that employees feel overworked, according to CyberSmart.

A similar share (16%) said their staff are less engaged or productive due to this stress, 14% think they are more disgruntled and 11% have observed a growing rift between leadership and employees.

Among the insider threats highlighted in the report were:

  • Stealing sensitive data to sell for profit (cited by 20%)
  • Harming company reputation due to resentment (17%)
  • Stealing money from the company or committing financial fraud (14%)
  • Making mistakes like clicking on phishing links (22%)

Jamie Akhtar, CEO of CyberSmart, argued that businesses should combine regular security awareness training with more empathy and support for staff going through difficult times.

“Not all businesses are experiencing a negative company culture as a result of the crisis. In fact, 20% believe it has brought the company closer together and 16% of employees are becoming more motivated to impress senior leaders,” he added.

“Nevertheless, in times like these, it is crucial that employers are mindful of how their staff are coping. It only takes one disgruntled or overworked member of staff to make a decision that could put the entire business at risk.”

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