Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

70% of US Employees Lack Security and Privacy Awareness

Acceptable use of social media and adherence to workplace physical security drops, new survey shows.

The majority of US workers fall short when it comes to strong knowledge of security and privacy best practices, potentially putting their companies at risk of a breach, according to a new report.

The 2017 State of Privacy and Security Awareness Report, which surveyed 1,012 US workers, found that 70% of employees lack a firm grasp of security and privacy. Overall, that's an improvement from last year, when the number was at 88%.

"I think things, in general, are getting better," says Tom Pendergast, chief strategist for security, privacy, and compliance for MediaPro, which conducted the study.

The survey results were drawn from 31 questions asked across eight categories of threat vectors. Survey participants were ranked as "risk," "novice," or "hero," depending on the number of incorrect answers they provided.

According to the survey, the percentage of "risk" employees grew to 19% this year from 16% last year, while the ranks of "novice" workers shrank to 51% this year from 72% last year. Employees in the "hero" category reaching 30% this year, up from 12% last year.

Threat Vectors

             

Source: MediaPro

"Both years, 'risky' individuals got caught up in two key areas: physical security, and safe remote and mobile computing," Pendergast says.  

In physical security, over half of the “risky” respondents chose to hold the door open for a stranger, without first checking to see if the individual had the proper identification or access to a secured area, he explained. Additionally, 62.3% of “risky” respondents this year thought it was okay to use a public Wi-Fi network to access company information, which was up from 45% last year.

Acceptable social media use and physical security suffered in this latest MediaPro survey.

Respondents willing to take potentially risky actions on their social media accounts that posed a risk to their companies reached 20% this year, compared to 14% last year. When queried whether they would be willing to post information about their company's upcoming yet undisclosed product release information on their social media account, more than 20% of the survey respondents answered affirmatively this year, compared to 7.5% last year.

Pendergast says he wished he knew why security awareness around social media accounts declined this year.

In addition to social media, physical security also took a hit this year. The survey found that nearly a quarter of employees surveyed were willing to take potentially risky actions in favor of controlling access to their company's facility. For example, 20% of survey respondents indicated they would be willing to hold an office door open if someone asked to enter, even if they lacked proper identification.

The percentage of survey respondents who lacked a firm grasp on physical security grew to 24% this year, compared to 19% last year.

"This is one where everyone knows they need to lock the door to their home at the end of the day, but why not carry this attitude to work?" Pendergast says. "They're not protecting their company's front door and that is a little surprising."

Companies like Microsoft and Boeing, he says, have a corporate culture where employees feel comfortable asking strangers whether they work at the organization if their company badge is not visible.  

The Most Improved

During the year, security and privacy awareness improved for six of the eight threat vectors, according to the report:  incident reporting, identifying malware warning signs, preventing phishing, cloud computing, working remotely, and identifying personal information.     

"Phishing is always identified as the number one reason for data breaches and malware, but I think we can drive the 8% number lower with education," Pendergast says. "If there is one thing that is talked about again and again and year after year, [it] is phishing."

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Related Content:

 

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
imfrom51
100%
0%
imfrom51,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2017 | 3:46:26 AM
Re: Basic education
I agree with the fact that this should now be taught in schools. However every security framework (from COBIT to NIST to PCI to ISO) includes security education and awareness. It's our responsibility as security professionals to make sure that this doesn't get buried in the everyday BAU or the "Sexy" side of Security. 
jenshadus
0%
100%
jenshadus,
User Rank: Strategist
10/4/2017 | 9:46:55 AM
Re: Basic education
Schools have enough problem teaching STEM.  Teachers are too busy teaching opinions.
cybersavior
100%
0%
cybersavior,
User Rank: Strategist
10/3/2017 | 12:52:40 PM
Basic education
This topic should be taught in middle school along with basic law, personal finance and nutrition.
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-31922
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
An HTTP Request Smuggling vulnerability in Pulse Secure Virtual Traffic Manager before 21.1 could allow an attacker to smuggle an HTTP request through an HTTP/2 Header. This vulnerability is resolved in 21.1, 20.3R1, 20.2R1, 20.1R2, 19.2R4, and 18.2R3.
CVE-2021-32051
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
Hexagon G!nius Auskunftsportal before 5.0.0.0 allows SQL injection via the GiPWorkflow/Service/DownloadPublicFile id parameter.
CVE-2021-32615
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-13
Piwigo 11.4.0 allows admin/user_list_backend.php order[0][dir] SQL Injection.
CVE-2021-33026
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-13
The Flask-Caching extension through 1.10.1 for Flask relies on Pickle for serialization, which may lead to remote code execution or local privilege escalation. If an attacker gains access to cache storage (e.g., filesystem, Memcached, Redis, etc.), they can construct a crafted payload, poison the ca...
CVE-2021-31876
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-13
Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 through 0.21.1 does not properly implement the replacement policy specified in BIP125, which makes it easier for attackers to trigger a loss of funds, or a denial of service attack against downstream projects such as Lightning network nodes. An unconfirmed child transaction with ...