Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/3/2017
09:55 AM
100%
0%

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

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.
WebAuthn, FIDO2 Infuse Browsers, Platforms with Strong Authentication
John Fontana, Standards & Identity Analyst, Yubico,  9/19/2018
Turn the NIST Cybersecurity Framework into Reality: 5 Steps
Mukul Kumar & Anupam Sahai, CISO & VP of Cyber Practice and VP Product Management, Cavirin Systems,  9/20/2018
NSS Labs Files Antitrust Suit Against Symantec, CrowdStrike, ESET, AMTSO
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/19/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Flash Poll
The Risk Management Struggle
The Risk Management Struggle
The majority of organizations are struggling to implement a risk-based approach to security even though risk reduction has become the primary metric for measuring the effectiveness of enterprise security strategies. Read the report and get more details today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-11763
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-25
In Apache HTTP Server 2.4.17 to 2.4.34, by sending continuous, large SETTINGS frames a client can occupy a connection, server thread and CPU time without any connection timeout coming to effect. This affects only HTTP/2 connections. A possible mitigation is to not enable the h2 protocol.
CVE-2018-14634
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-25
An integer overflow flaw was found in the Linux kernel's create_elf_tables() function. An unprivileged local user with access to SUID (or otherwise privileged) binary could use this flaw to escalate their privileges on the system. Kernel versions 2.6.x, 3.10.x and 4.14.x are believed to be vulnerabl...
CVE-2018-1664
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-25
IBM DataPower Gateway 7.1.0.0 - 7.1.0.23, 7.2.0.0 - 7.2.0.21, 7.5.0.0 - 7.5.0.16, 7.5.1.0 - 7.5.1.15, 7.5.2.0 - 7.5.2.15, and 7.6.0.0 - 7.6.0.8 as well as IBM DataPower Gateway CD 7.7.0.0 - 7.7.1.2 echoing of AMP management interface authorization headers exposes login credentials in browser cache. ...
CVE-2018-1669
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-25
IBM DataPower Gateway 7.1.0.0 - 7.1.0.23, 7.2.0.0 - 7.2.0.21, 7.5.0.0 - 7.5.0.16, 7.5.1.0 - 7.5.1.15, 7.5.2.0 - 7.5.2.15, and 7.6.0.0 - 7.6.0.8 as well as IBM DataPower Gateway CD 7.7.0.0 - 7.7.1.2 are vulnerable to a XML External Entity Injection (XXE) attack when processing XML data. A remote atta...
CVE-2018-1539
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-25
IBM Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager 5.0 through 5.02 and 6.0 through 6.0.6 could allow remote attackers to bypass authentication via a direct request or forced browsing to a page other than URL intended. IBM X-Force ID: 142561.