Two-thirds of those working from home say they are worried about their online safety and privacy, even if everything is fine
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, working from home has increased significantly. This measure may have curbed the spread of the virus, but according to a new analysis by the cyber security provider F-Secure, the Home Office could also have contributed to more and more people feeling digital fears.
In a recent survey(1), 67 percent of people who work mostly from home said that they are increasingly worried about their online security and privacy, even if everything is fine, compared to 58% of other people.
Dr Lee Hadlington, Lecturer in Cyberpsychology at Nottingham Trent University, whose research interests include compliance with cybersecurity practices in the workplace, explains that the sudden shift to the home office is increasing people’s fears of online threats.
“Not surprisingly, people are more worried about cyber security, especially if they work from home. Many people have been pushed into the ’new normal’ of the home office without being prepared, trained or equipped for it. For most people, cybersecurity is generally secondary and is regulated in the office by a responsible person. With the home office, other factors are now coming into play that make these cybersecurity fears increase symptomatically. For example, no fully equipped or limited workplaces (usually work is done on the kitchen table, in the living room or in the bedroom), limited or poor Internet connection, as well as a lack of knowledge in the field of online technologies.“
While concern about online security and privacy was widespread among all survey participants, home office workers reported increased concern regarding a variety of issues, including:
- 65 Percent of people in the home office who work from home said that the Internet is becoming more and more dangerous, compared to 54 percent of other respondents.
- 63 Percent of people in the home office said that concern about data protection has changed their Internet use, compared to 48 people of the other respondents.
- 71 Percent of people in the home office said that they are worried that new smart devices – such as wearables and connected household appliances – could lead to a violation of their privacy, compared to 64 percent of the other respondents.
- 70 Percent of people in the home office felt increasingly uncomfortable when connecting to public WiFi networks due to security risks, compared to 63 percent of other respondents.
“Home office could also mean that people now had more time to focus on other aspects of their lives and spend more time on self-reflection and aspects of self-improvement. This may have involved a reassessment of the risks in your daily working life. The pandemic also led to the fact that people were mostly isolated, and many turned to the only thing they had access to – the Internet. Of course, spending more time on a single activity can lead to increased risk perception, especially when people are confronted with negative news about cybersecurity issues,“ explains Dr. Hadlington.
Separating online activities to reduce digital fears
Loud Tom Gaffney, Security Consultant at F-Securesecurity management at the home office requires not only technical security measures to protect data and devices, but also measures to separate private and working life.
“Among the measures that any person can take to protect themselves and their privacy when working from home are updating the devices and software, installing security software on the devices, and some other basic security measures,” Gaffney said. “However, the separation of private and professional online activities can be just as important. Restricting what you do on the individual devices and at what times can be an important way to reduce digital fears.”
For more information on how to reduce digital anxiety at work from home, see https://blog.f-secure.com/digital-anxiety / .
(1)Source: F-Secure Consumer Survey Wave 4 (2021), nine countries (USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, Netherlands, Mexico, Sweden, Japan), sample size 800/country, a total of 7200 respondents.