Remote staff ‘confidently’ make 90% of all cyber mistakes

©Arab News

Due to COVID-19, many companies switched to remote working, affecting corporate security via a growing number of web-based attacks and phishing.

Free security awareness training on remote working from cybersecurity company Kaspersky and Area9 Lyceum, a cloud-based educational platform, has seen participants enact correct responses 66 percent of the time. However, even when learners were wrong, they mostly remained confident in their competences. The most difficult learning objectives proved to be virtual machines, updates, and reasons why people should use corporate IT resources even while working outside the office.

Analysis of anonymized learning results revealed that remote staff tend to overestimate the level of their knowledge of cybersecurity basics. In 90 percent of cases when learners selected a wrong answer, they evaluated their feelings toward the given response as “I know it” or “I think I know it.”

This spring, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies switched to remote working. This change affected corporate security via a growing number of web-based attacks, coronavirus-related phishing, as well as the increased use of shadow IT. To help businesses improve their staff cybersecurity skills, in the beginning of April, Kaspersky and Area9 Lyceum released an adaptive learning course for those transitioning to at-home working, covering the basics of secure remote operations.

The study also identified the most difficult learning objectives — the hardest being reasons why to use virtual machines. As many as 60 percent of the given answers were wrong on this matter, with 90 percent of respondents falling into the “unconscious incompetence” category. This means that mistaken learners were still sure that they had selected the right answer or option.

“If employees see no danger in risky actions, let’s say, in storing sensitive documents in personal storage, they are unlikely to seek advice from IT or IT security departments. From this perspective, it’s hard to change such behavior, because a person has an established habit and may not recognize the associated risks. As a result, ‘unconscious incompetence’ is one of the most difficult issues to identify and solve with security awareness training,” said Denis Barinov, head of the Kaspersky Academy.

More than half of responses (52 percent) to questions about reasons why employees should use corporate IT resources (such as mail and messaging services or cloud storage) when working from home were incorrect. In 88 percent of cases, remote employees thought that they could explain this correctly. Almost the same proportion of mistakes (50 percent) was made when answering a question about how to install software updates. In this case, a staggering majority of 92 percent of those who had provided wrong answers, believed they had that required skill.

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