Survey: Users Abide by Security Policies

Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 06:09 PM gHale


Only 25 percent of workers bypass their organizations’ security policies, and most agree it’s important to follow their employers’ standard practices, a new survey showed.

Complying with their organization’s security policies is necessary, said 95 percent of the respondents and 89 percent said security policies help prevent malware infections, according to the 2,500 employees surveyed by Webroot in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. More than 60 percent said 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.

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“We were surprised — quite pleasantly, I might add — by how few employees skirt around corporate computer security policies,” said Jacques Erasmus, chief information security officer at Webroot. “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.”

So why the 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,” Erasmus said. “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. 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 said 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,” Erasmus said. “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.”



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