Workers unaware of travel-related cybersecurity threats, survey finds

This holiday season, over half of adults plan to travel with work devices. Most don't appreciate the risks.

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A little over three-quarters (77 percent) of workers say they connect to free or public WiFi while traveling. Some 63 percent will use public WiFi to access work emails and files.

Those are just a couple top line findings from a chilling (if predictable) new digital security survey conducted by threat management company ObserveIT. The survey included more than 1,000 U.S. employees ages 18 - 65+ who have traveled with corporate devices in the past year.

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"Not only does this research confirm that cybersecurity isn't top of mind while employees are traveling, but it also highlights a major gap in security awareness training around mitigating the threats posed by remote work," said ObserveIT CEO Mike McKee.

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Collated with findings from the Ponemon Institute, which reports that 64 percent of all insider threat incidents in the last year were caused by negligent employees, the implications become cringe-worthy for IT security workers.

While it's easy to conclude common sense should have prevailed in many employee-caused threat incidents, organizations that don't have clear and frequently reenforced digital security policies shoulder much of the blame. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed report being unaware of an organization-wide cybersecurity policy related to travel.

"While technology has enabled people to be productive regardless of location, it's also creating new ways for hackers to infiltrate otherwise secure systems," says McKee. "Organizations can't just focus on what's happening within their four walls. Rather, they need to take a holistic approach that puts security first, wherever work is getting done."

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That includes basic precautions like avoiding public WiFi and using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Only 17 percent of respondents reported consistently using a VPN outside the office.

More results from the survey can be found here.

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