T-Systems (www.t-systems.co.uk), the corporate IT and cyber-security arm of Deutsche Telekom (Europe’s largest telecoms company), is warning organisations of the security risks associated with allowing employees to work while on their Christmas holiday.
Where employees absolutely must interrupt their festivities to email and work remotely, T-Systems says it is essential those employees have had recent cyber-security training, or they risk compromising business security and confidentiality.
Scott Cairns, the UK head of cyber security at T-Systems, said:
“Time away from our hectic work life should be treasured, not spoilt by an expectation we will respond to work emails and requests. Putting aside the impact on our families, this practice also creates a real cyber-security threat for organisations.
“Our research shows a third of employees use free Wi-Fi at locations such as those at airports, hotels, coffee shops and bars, despite these being insecure and open to communication interception by cyber criminals. Couple this with the widespread practice of employees emailing documents to their private email on their own devices, where security is invariably lower, and you open your organisation to potential attacks.
“Our message to businesses for the holiday season is ‘let your employees enjoy an uninterrupted break’. Strongly discourage them from taking work on holiday, and make sure employees do not feel pressured to work when they should be taking time out.
Our research found that despite the pace at which cyber-attacks are evolving, 66% of respondents had received no up-to-date education within the past twelve months. Nearly 30% of respondents say they have never had cyber security education at any employer.
“Where it is unavoidable, businesses should ensure there is training, and clear guidelines to be followed. Our research shows many employees are not knowledgeable on the multitude of ways their devices can be infected with viruses and malware… and those who thought they were ‘very knowledgeable’ frequently gave the wrong answer when questioned!”
“Training your employees regularly on effective cyber-security practice is probably the single-most effective step organisations can undertake to dramatically reduce their risks of viruses, malware and other common forms of cyber-crime.”
T-Systems’ research was conducted by respected market research agency Censuswide into over 2,000 UK employees. Its findings include:
- Nearly a third of employees (31%) use free Wi-Fi hotspots, and nearly a quarter (24%) use them for work-related emails and documents. These are a big danger area as they are insecure and easy for hackers to clone (getting access to all email and web traffic, including any work documents and passwords)
- 28% of employees email work documents to and from their personal email, despite this creating numerous security problems.
- 10% use free USB charging points at airports and stations. These ports can be used to transfer viruses and malware to unsuspecting users
- Remarkably 28% of employees have never in their working career had any cyber security training to protect themselves and their employer, as you can see the threats are avoidable
Cyber-security training for all employees is particularly important as the dangers continue when employees come home from their Christmas holiday. T-Systems’ research found that:
- 18% of employees admit to connecting their digital camera to their work computer to download photos. And don’t think that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are safer, viruses and malware can just as easily transfer through wireless connections and then quickly spread through the organisation.
- 15% admit to connecting USB sticks and memory cards that they share with their family members to their work computer. A sure way for viruses to quickly spread from home to business.