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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Employees Put Personal Security, Interests Above Company's, Survey Says

More than one-third say loss of personal information is top concern; only 29 percent concerned about loss of company data

It's not exactly a news flash, but it could be useful in motivating users to behave properly online: Employees are more worried about their own security than about the safety of corporate data.

According to a survey of 1,600 userspublished yesterday by Trend Micro, employees are generally much more motivated to protect their own data security than data belonging to the company.

"When it comes to concerns and fears over the damage Web threats can cause, end users consistently ranked personal over corporate," the study says. "Violation of personal privacy, identity theft, or the loss of personal information were the top-stated concerns surrounding insidious threats such as phishing, spyware, Trojans, data-stealing malware, and spam.

"Loss of corporate information and damage to corporate reputation were the least of end users' concerns. For example, 36 percent of U.S. end-users said loss of personal information was their top concern about viruses; only 29 percent expressed concern over the loss of corporate data due to viruses."

The survey, which included end users in the U.S., U.K, Germany, and Japan, noted that risky practices and attitudes were customary, regardless of country. Roughly 50 percent of respondents admitted to divulging employee-privy data through an unsecure Web mail account.

Mobile workers are more of a liability than their desktop counterparts, the study says. Across all countries, 60 percent of mobile workers versus 44 percent of stationary workers admitted to having sent out company confidential information via IM, Web mail, or social media applications. In Japan, that number spikes to 78 percent of mobile employees.

In the U.S., laptop end users are far more likely to perform nonwork-related activities while on their company’s network than desktop users; 74 percent of laptop users said they checked personal email (58 percent for desktop users), and 58 percent said they browsed Web sites unrelated to work (45 percent for desktop users).

Online banking/bill paying, listening or watching streaming audio or video, visiting social networking sites, and online shopping were all cited by at least 25 percent of the survey respondents who used company machines for nonwork-related activities.

Roughly one out of 10 users in each country admitted to overriding their corporate security in order to access restricted websites, the survey says.

"These results might be disturbing to IT administrators and small business owners, but they're not all that surprising, especially to those of us who work within the security industry," said David Perry, global director of education at Trend Micro.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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