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9/20/2011
06:20 PM
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Most Users Respect, Follow Company Security Policies

Eighteen- to 29-year-old users most likely to bypass security policies for computers, mobile devices, Webroot survey says

For once, some relatively good news about enterprise security: Only one-fourth of employees bypass their organizations' security policies, and most agree it's important to follow their employers' security policies, according to a new survey.

Ninety-five percent of the 2,500 employees polled by Webroot in the U.S., U.K., and Australia said that complying with their organization's security policies is necessary, and 89 percent said security policies help prevent malware infections. More than 60 percent said the security policies at their companies never or "rarely" impede them in doing their jobs, and only 7 percent said they are extremely worried about their employers monitoring their online activities.

"We were surprised -- quite pleasantly, I might add -- by how few employees skirt around corporate computer security policies. Given the proliferation of new social tools, mobile devices, browsers, and all other emerging tech form factors, we assumed it'd be tempting for employees to get around policies prohibiting their use as IT departments grapple with how to incorporate them," says Jacques Erasmus, chief information security officer at Webroot.

So why the apparent discrepancy of 25 percent still trying to break policies? "People are used to being connected -- to their devices and to each other via social networks. Particularly for younger workers who've grown up with these technologies as a part of their daily lives, it can take some adjustment to do without them if their company says it must be so," Erasmus says. "We found that a greater proportion of employees between the ages of 18 to 29 disabled or modified restrictive settings on their computers and used mobile devices for restricted activities more than any other age group."

Around 15 percent say they used a mobile device to perform activities banned at work, versus 6 percent of users in all age brackets. Around 12 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds visited prohibited websites on a mobile device versus 6 percent of all users; 6 six percent of that younger age bracket changed their browser settings, while 3 percent overall did.

But just because most employees play by the security rules doesn't mean your organization is in the clear for insider threats or social engineering.

"While we were generally encouraged by the number of employees who respect their companies' computer security policies, all it takes is one employee to fall victim to a social engineering tactic or targeted attack. Cybercriminals have realized it's easier to hit the soft targets -- the employees -- before they try to get past the infrastructure companies have invested a lot of money in," such as firewalls, anti-malware solutions, IDSes, and other products, Erasmus says.

The full report is available here.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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