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Employees suffering high levels of ‘cyber stress’ in the workplace

Employees suffering high levels of ‘cyber stress’ in the workplace

A Kaspersky Lab study revealed that news of data breaches and pressures to manage multiple online accounts are causing German employees increased levels of stress.

The study revealed that

  • 69 per cent of people admit to being stressed by news of data breaches
  • 73 per cent of people reveal the number of passwords they have to manage is causing them undue stress
  • 72 per cent of people having feelings of stress when it comes to protecting their devices
  • 66 per cent are overwhelmed by the amount of sensitive information they have

Kaspersky Lab also surveyed office workers on what caused them anxiety in the workplace and found that 36 per cent of European employees rated hacking as more stressful than admitting to a mistake (30 per cent) or their manager seeing their private emails (29 per cent). There is cause for these levels of anxiety, with 50 per cent of survey respondents having experienced a cyber security incident in the past five years and 44 per cent of people expecting to experience a cybersecurity issue in the next year at work; rising to 46 per cent for small to mid-sized businesses.

However, when asked about their fears and expectations for cyber security issues on their home devices, our survey respondents rated the threat as far higher – 58 per cent of people worry about being the target of a cybersecurity issue at home, compared against 48 per cent worrying about it happening at work. This is perhaps because employees trust their employer to protect them against cyber threats at work, with 67per cent having confidence in their employer’s cybersecurity practices.

David Emm, Principle Security Researcher, at Kaspersky Lab comments on this finding, advising, “Employees typically feel less exposed to cyber-attacks at work than they do at home. However, while it’s understandable that employees place a certain level of trust in their employer’s IT systems, this faith is often misplaced, not least because cybercriminals use the same social engineering methods to infiltrate company systems as they do devices at home. So, it’s important that they maintain the same level of vigilance at home and at work.”

While employees claim high levels of trust in their employer to keep their data safe, the same cannot be said for other businesses that store data with 17 per cent of people rating the government as the organisation to be least trusted with data, followed by the financial sector with 14 per cent lacking trust. 16 per cent of people answered that they did not trust any sector at all with their data. Healthcare, manufacturing and education were all more trusted, despite these industries having seen high profile data breaches in the past few years.

Dr. Frank Schwab, media psychologist at Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg says “Cyber ​​stress in the workplace can be a significant health burden. In the working context, we can assume such stress could eventually lead to absenteeism, illness and eventually even leaving the organisation as commitment and competence has to compete against stress. Stress is usually accompanied by anger, contempt or shame and leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Some level of stress at work is inevitable but taking back control is key and this can easily be done in the case of cyber related stress”

With cyber attacks and data breaches remaining ever present in the media, it is clear employees have never been more aware of the risks posed and this is leading to increased levels of stress as they struggle to understand their responsibilities. Both businesses and their employees must be responsible for taking proactive steps to learn more about cybersecurity and implement security solutions. Through education and action, cybersecurity can become a source of empowerment rather than frustration, and employees can understand how to embrace and utilise technology safely – instead of allowing it to create cyber-stress.

About Dean Alvarez

Dean is Features Editor at IT Security Guru. Aside from cyber security and all things tech, Dean's interests include wine tasting, roller blading and playing the oboe in his Christian rock band, Noughts & Crosses.

You can reach Dean via email - dean@itsecurityguru.org