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Publication Title | Understanding Remote Worker Security: A Survey of User Awareness vs. Behavior

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employees work is crucial for a company that might have large numbers of employees working remotely during a natural disaster, pandemic, or other network disruption.
As the stakes grow higher for network integrity, the threat landscape is rapidly evolving as well. More than ever, IT organizations require greater agility and knowledge about how to combat attacks before they become full-blown problems. Security challenges are growing in number and intensity, and seeping into every aspect of a business organization. Threats are becoming more complex, stealthy, and profit-motivated.
As security threats and concerns evolve, end-user behavior is changing. Working remotely is no longer the exception, but a way of life for many employees. To respond immediately to clients and colleagues, employees are becoming dependent on constant access to the network. They are used to responding to e-mail or accessing the company server at any time of day. Employees depend on the Internet for their everyday business activities, and face a broad array of tempting e-commerce sites, file sharing environments, and online communities that can pose security risks.
Users are also becoming more complacent. They believe that their IT organizations are responsible for protecting them, and as a result are most likely unaware of new or emerging security threats. To overcome these new challenges, IT organizations need in-depth insight into their users’ attitudes and behavior. Armed with this knowledge, they can take steps to move their security strategies forward and proactively confront these emerging threats.
To better understand how remote workers affect security risks and planning for IT, Cisco Systems commissioned InsightExpress, a third- party market research firm, to survey end users from a wide range of industries. The surveys were conducted in parallel in 10 countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, India, Australia, and Brazil. In each country, more than 100 remote workers were surveyed.
The survey results reveal a surprising set of end-user perceptions, experiences, and behaviors. These perceptions and behaviors heighten security risks for IT organizations in environments that lack perimeters, boundaries, or full corporate oversight.
For example, despite a high admission of security awareness and cognizance, telecommuters’ work practices are not always consistent with this reported awareness. Many users regularly open unknown e-mail messages and attachments, connect to neighbors’ wireless networks, share their work computers with non-employees, and engage in Internet shopping.
Awareness is a crucial first step in safeguarding organizations. The global survey indicates that the majority of remote workers (66 percent) are cognizant of security concerns (Figure 1).
All contents are Copyright © 1992–2006 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 2 of 9

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