A third of workers targeted by phishing attempts during lockdown

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of workers have fallen victim to phishing emails since the start of lockdown, according to new research.

A survey of 491 employees and senior leaders working in UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for software and applications review business Capterra, found that while SMEs have moved quickly to transition to home working during the Coronavirus lockdown, cyber security processes have been less efficient.

Of the third of respondents who had experienced a phishing attempt, 45 per cent of emails were related to Coronavirus, indicating that criminals are looking to exploit uncertainty during the pandemic.

The research also revealed that more than a third of SMEs have a main password that they use across multiple sites and over half (52 per cent) of businesses share this password between personal and business accounts.

According to the study, only 15 per cent of respondents have strong passwords, with randomised letters, numbers and characters.

When it came to additional layers of security, the results show the number of workers using firewalls (eight per cent) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) (seven per cent) was significantly low.

However, with rising awareness of the risk of cyber breach and hacking during the COVID-19 crisis, companies are making efforts to educate staff to cyber risk - and 51 per cent of respondents said their organisation have someone responsible for cyber security and they know who that person is.

However, just under a quarter (24 per cent) said they knew that someone was responsible, but weren’t aware of who.

The report stated: “With almost half of [employees] using their personal device to work (40 per cent), training is vital to avoid attacks; the results of the survey also demonstrate that the coronavirus crisis has shown the lack of preparation of SMEs for remote working.

“Employees that are trained doesn’t mean that they are experts in IT security. It is also important that they know who to contact in case of doubt or after a cyber attack.”

James Stickland, chief executive of authentication platform Veridium, commented: “Now that millions of employees are working from home, companies are waking up to the weakness of passwords.

"As a result, more and more organisations are turning towards passwordless, multi-factor biometric authentication to mitigate against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, whilst enhancing the user experience.”

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