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Brits are Bad Boys of Europe for Risky Cyber Behaviour

29 May 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

A global survey (by Blue Coat Systems, an enterprise security company) has highlighted the disconnect between employee awareness of cyber threats and their actions. 1580 respondents across 11 countries highlighted a global trend of employees ignoring cyber risks while at work.

Results from the survey found that universally, workers visit dodgy websites while at work despite typically being fully aware of the risks to their companies.

The research was conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne. It found the actions of employees at odds with their awareness of the growing cyber threats facing the workplace. In addition, this risky behaviour can leave both sensitive corporate and personal data open to being stolen and used immediately, stored for future use or sold into a thriving black market where compromised corporate and personal identities are traded globally.



One source of cyber threats is the practice of phishing. Cyber criminals continuously conduct extensive research on employees’ social profiles to find information that can be used to attack organisations. For example, an attacker may create a seemingly personalised email targeted at an IT administrator for a large enterprise using information found on social media profiles, such as the recipient’s former school or favourite sports team. That email may contain malware that is downloaded once the recipient clicks on a link included in the document.



Pornography continues to be one of the most popular methods of hiding malware or malicious content. Even though awareness is high of the threat posed by adult content sites, workers are still visiting these potentially dangerous sites. The Blue Coat survey found that at 19 per cent, China has the worst record for viewing adult content sites on a work device, with Mexico (10 per cent) and the UK (nine per cent) not far behind.


Survey Highlights

The majority of global survey participants admitted understanding the obvious cyber threats when downloading email attachments from an unknown sender or using social media and unapproved apps from corporate networks without permission but knowing this, did not curb their risk-taking. Other findings include:

? Although 65 per cent of global respondents view using a new application without the IT department’s consent as a serious cyber-security risk to the business, 26 per cent admitted doing so.

? In the UK one-third (33 per cent) of respondents used new applications without IT’s permission, compared to 27 per cent in Germany and just 16 per cent in France.

? Obvious risks such as opening emails from unverified senders still happen at work. One out of five UK employees open email attachments from unverified senders, even though nearly four out of five (78 per cent) see it as a serious risk, whereas German (64 per cent) and French (63 per cent) businesses view the threat less seriously and both countries open less unsolicited emails at 16 per cent each.

? Nearly two out of five employees (41 per cent) use social media sites for personal reasons at work – a serious risk to businesses, as cyber criminals hide malware on shortened links and exploit encrypted traffic to deliver payloads.

? Whilst globally, six per cent of respondents still admitted viewing adult content on work devices, the UK ranked higher with nearly one in ten (nine per cent) employees admitting to viewing adult content at work, compared to France and Germany at five per cent and two per cent respectively.


Better choices

“Whilst the majority of employees are aware of cyber security risks, in practice most still take chances,” said Robert Arandjelovic, director of products for Blue Coat, EMEA. “The consumerisation of IT and social media carry mixed blessings to enterprises. It is no longer realistic to prevent employees from using them, so businesses need to find ways to support these technology choices while simultaneously mitigating the security risks.”

Article written by Robin Snow | Published 29 May 2015


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