Home Workers More Likely to Be Concerned About Security

The extended period of home working that many employees endured during the pandemic may also have made them more aware of security and privacy issues, according to new research from F-Secure.

The security vendor polled over 7000 workers in nine countries to better understand how their attitudes had evolved during the crisis.

Over two-thirds (67%) of homeworkers claimed that they increasingly worry about their online security and privacy even if nothing is wrong, compared to 58% of other users.

A similar number (65%) agreed that the internet is becoming a more dangerous, versus 54% of other respondents.

“Working from home meant that individuals may have had more time to focus on other aspects of their working life and spent more time engaging in self-reflection and aspects of self-improvement. This could have included a re-assessment of cyber-risks in their daily lives,” argued Lee Hadlington, senior lecturer in cyberpsychology at Nottingham Trent University.

“The pandemic also meant people were isolated, with many turned to the one thing they did have access to – the internet. Of course, spending more time engaged in one activity could lead to an increase in perceptions of risk, particularly when people are being subjected to negative news stories about cybersecurity related issues.”

However, this kind of “digital anxiety” could also be driving better awareness of cyber-risks and even behavioral change.

Some 70% of remote workers said they felt increasingly uncomfortable connecting to public Wi-Fi due to security risks, compared to 63% of other respondents. Best practice security policy would be to avoid public hotspots unless connecting via a VPN.

A similar number (71%) of remote workers expressed privacy concerns about their smart home devices. Many such devices have been exposed by researchers as insecure and under attack.

However, the study is at odds with other research in this area. A 2020 report from Trend Micro found that home workers engaged in more risky behavior than their office-bound counterparts, even if they knew it contradicted official corporate policy.

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