SecurityBrief Australia - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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High phishing rates among remote workers across Australia
Mon, 16th Oct 2023

A recent two-part study reveals that an alarming 85% of remote and hybrid workers have experienced a phishing attempt, with 67% receiving more than one. The research was commissioned by GetApp and surveyed 1,024 fully remote or hybrid employees in Australia to gauge views towards different work scenarios and the associated security implications of remote work models.

The outcomes of the research show a clear preference for remote work with 82% of respondents, indicating an inclination towards this mode of operation. Interestingly, the data shows that slightly more respondents from rural areas (46%) enjoy working remotely compared to 45% from suburbs and 42% from urban areas. Moreover, only 18% of respondents are willing to apply for an entirely in-person job, with a greater willingness among rural residents with 26% stating their readiness to consider a fully in-person job.

While the reduced commuting need was the top benefit of remote working for 29% of respondents, other challenges were highlighted. A significant 27% of those surveyed mentioned isolation as a challenge, with a higher proportion of those from rural areas (37%) citing it as a serious problem. More than half (51%) recognized in-person relationships as the principal advantage of office work, with rural-based respondents valuing in-person meetings the most (57%).

The issue of password security was also touched upon in the study. Forty-three percent of respondents claimed to use unique passwords for each site, but worryingly, 44% relied solely on memory, and 30% stored passwords in an Excel spreadsheet or document. Use of password management software was surprisingly low at just 30%. The lack of password differentiation was a concerning factor, with 59% of those who do not have unique passwords admitting to using the same passwords for both their personal and business accounts.

Interestingly, a significant proportion (26%) of remote or hybrid workers did not change their passwords even after a phishing attack. Email security software is used by a mere 25% of respondents to ensure a secure remote working environment. However, proactive steps are being taken to counter threats, with 38% of respondents setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) software and 34% turning to antivirus software.

"Companies that have transitioned to fully remote or hybrid working models in past years need to consider what best supports their employees and the role of technology. Specifically, technology aimed at bolstering productivity and security whilst addressing the unique needs of location-specific remote and hybrid working employees," advised Andrew Blair, Content Analyst at GetApp Australia.

This exhaustive analysis of remote and hybrid work conditions and the security implications thereof are a critical reminder of the importance of reinforcing secure practices amongst workers in an increasingly digital work landscape.