Remote work increases employee anxiety about privacy and security

According to an international study released Tuesday by a cybersecurity software maker, remote workers have higher levels of anxiety about security and privacy than other types of employees.

In a survey of F-Secure Out of 7,200 people from nine countries, more than two-thirds (67%) of remote workers acknowledged they worry about security and privacy even when things were going well, compared to 58% of other respondents.

Remote workers also feel more overwhelmed with managing security across all their connected devices than others (63% vs. 59%).

They also have a more fearful view of the internet, with 65% of remote workers saying it was becoming a dangerous place, compared to just 48% of other respondents.

Portable devices and connected household appliances are also a concern for teleworkers. More than seven in 10 (71%) expressed concern about the potential of these devices to violate their privacy, compared to 64% of others.

In fact, privacy has become such a concern for remote workers that 63% of them told researchers that they had changed their internet use, compared to 48% of other respondents.

Desire for computer security

Employees working from home may miss this IT department at work that has handled most security issues in the office, maintained John Grohola psychologist in Groveland, Mass. who specializes in online behavior.

“When at home, a worker may not feel as comfortable with the security of their home network, including the security of every device residing on that network,” he told TechNewsWorld. .

“With the Internet of Things, we’ve seen how insecure various connected devices in the home can be,” he continued. “Just one of these unsecured devices can compromise the integrity and security of an entire home network.”

Remote workers also have to deal with the removal of security pitfalls found in modern corporate environments.

“When people need to log in, have security guards or other obvious things to protect the security of a building, they will feel more secure,” explained John Bambenek, principal threat hunter at Netenrichan IT operations and digital security company in San Jose, California.

“Remote workers have to deal not only with the feeling of separation from the office, but also the separation from corporate security,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Separation anxiety

Adam Gavish, co-founder and CEO of DoControla security service provider for SaaS applications in New York, argued that working remotely makes an employee more exposed.

“There’s almost a false sense of security about being in a physical office, so being removed from that environment only increases an individual’s anxiety about security and privacy,” he said. told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s normal human behavior to feel more vulnerable due to being physically separated and isolated from the rest of the workforce,” he added.

In addition to experiencing separation anxiety, remote workers may suddenly find themselves struggling with additional security tasks to add to that anxiety.

“People who have recently shifted to working online might also have a sudden influx of new accounts to manage — VPNs, video conferencing, chat apps, document collaboration, and more,” said Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitecha site for opinions, advice and information on consumer safety products.

“This means that they are responsible for creating and managing a large number of new passwords, as most companies have not yet adopted single sign-on or passwordless systems,” he continued.

“They are also responsible for downloading and installing the correct software with the correct settings, as the default settings for apps are often not the most private or secure,” he added.

These extra tasks can contribute to security anxiety, but they can also contribute to security awareness.

“If you have to keep your own network up and running to work from home, you will naturally start to be more aware of how you can be attacked online,” explained Chris Hauk, consumer privacy champion at Pixel Privacya privacy and security website.

“You will likely need to perform your own system and app updates,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This means curious types can start to learn more about security and privacy, making them more aware than they would have been working from the office.”

Isolation reinforces awareness

Security anxiety for remote workers increases over time, argued Erich Kron, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Florida.

“Over time, the idea that working from home is temporary will fade,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Once the individual realizes that this may be a long-term change, responsibility for the privacy and security of company data and assets may begin to creep in. employee.”

“It can be much easier for a person to feel disconnected for a short time than for longer periods,” he continued. “Over time, the feeling of isolation replaces that of being part of a team and with that, the feeling that you have more responsibility to take on can increase.”


F-Secure Infographic: The Digital Age of Anxiety


“It’s like in a horror movie, when there’s a group of people, they look inside the group and feel a certain sense of security,” he said. “However, if they are alone, they look in all directions as soon as there is a strange noise because they no longer benefit from the security that one finds in a group.”

“A lot of people may not even realize the sense of isolation has developed, but it impacts how they see things around them,” Kron observed. “Without a team to fall back on, they will naturally feel like the responsibility is theirs.

“For those who are aware of the importance of security, they will naturally take it upon themselves to be more security conscious,” he added.

Reduce anxiety

What can companies do to reduce the anxiety of their remote workers?

“Make sure they give users tools to protect themselves, even at home, and that this protection is visible but not distracting to their work,” Bambenek recommended.

“Security teams should work with human resources and personnel leaders to intensify education initiatives on safe remote behaviors and existing security controls to alleviate remote worker anxiety,” added Jasmine Henry, Director of Field Safety for JupiterOnea cyber asset management and governance solutions provider based in Morrisville, North Carolina.

“Security teams should educate their remote workers on existing controls that have been tailored to remote work settings, including VPN, device management, endpoint protection, and data loss prevention,” he said. she told TechNewsWorld.

Henry added that organizations’ security departments “should also clearly and continuously educate their remote teams on exactly what is expected of remote workers to be responsible and follow acceptable use policies.”

However, one thing companies shouldn’t do to reduce remote worker anxiety is invest in technology blindly.

“The first thing we see companies doing is buying more technology. But if you’re buying new technology from an organization that hasn’t fully understood the concept of risk management and probably doesn’t have enough qualified technical staff, you’re only complicating your situation further,” said Nick Sanna, CEO of RiskLensa risk management firm in Spokane, Wash.

“New technologies require a validated risk management model that can assess your situation in business language – dollars and cents – so you can make rational and defensible decisions,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Maria D. Ervin