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Australians ignoring cybersecurity policies in favour of productivity

Trend Micro has found that 67% of remote workers have increased their cybersecurity awareness during COVID-19 related lockdowns. However, despite greater awareness people may still engage in risky behaviour, the survey finds.

According to Trend Micro’s Head in the Clouds study, there has never been a better time for companies to take advantage of heightened employee cybersecurity awareness, but the approach businesses take to training is critical to ensure secure practices are being followed.

The survey shows 67% of Australians remote workers say they are more conscious of their organisations cybersecurity policies since lockdown began, but many are breaking the rules anyway due to limited understanding or resource constraints.

Trend Micro states the results indicate a high level of security awareness in Australia, with 83% of respondents claiming they take instructions from their IT team seriously, and 78% agree that cybersecurity within their organisation is partly their responsibility.

Additionally, 61% acknowledge that using non-work applications on a corporate device is a security risk. However, just because most people understand the risks does not mean they stick to the rules, the survey highlights.

For example, 51% of employees admit to using a non-work application on a corporate device, and 68% of them have actually uploaded corporate data to that application.

Furthermore, 79% of respondents confess to using their work laptop for personal browsing, and only 31% of them fully restrict the sites they visit. 37% of respondents say they often or always access corporate data from a personal device, and 7% of respondents admit to watching or accessing porn on their work laptop, and 7% access the dark web.

Productivity still wins out over protection for many Australian users, Trend Micro states, with a third of respondents (33%) agreeing that they do not give much thought to whether the apps they use are sanctioned by IT or not, as they just want the job done.

Additionally, one-quarter (24%) think they can get away with using a non-work application, as the solutions provided by their company are 'nonsense'.

Trend Micro A/NZ managing director for commercial Ashley Watkins says, “Although there is a high level of security awareness in Australia, its concerning to see that some learned employee behaviour continues to create vulnerabilities for organisations.

“Whilst many employees are aware of the risks, the statistics show that this isn't necessarily translating into action, so organisations need to identify and address this through training now more than ever.

“Australian organisations are starting to determine their working from home policies into the future as restrictions ease and some slowly transition back to the office environment, so as part of this it's important to ensure the existing awareness converts to clear process, policy and action.”

Trend Micro’s Head in the Clouds study is distilled from interviews with 13,200 remote workers across 27 countries on their attitudes towards corporate cybersecurity and IT policies.