Report: One in four employees who made security mistakes lost their job


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One in four employees lost their job after making a mistake that compromised their company’s security, according to new research from messaging security firm Tessian.

The second edition of the report provides an up-to-date look at the factors that drive employees to make workplace safety mistakes and the growing severity of the resulting consequences.

The report revealed that more and more people are falling victim to advanced and sophisticated attacks. In 2022, 52% of employees fell victim to phishing emails impersonating a senior company executive – up from 41% in 2020 – and a third were tricked by a phishing text message (smishing). These data points validate some findings published in the FBI’s annual IC3 report last week, which found that phishing and business email compromise scams are increasingly sophisticated and far more prevalent than any other threat in line.

Employees today face many distractions and stressors that weren’t an issue two years ago, including Zoom fatigue and burnout resulting from the always-on mentality that comes with working remotely. distance. Jeff Hancock, a Stanford University professor who contributed to the report, points out that these factors can often overwhelm people’s cognitive loads and cause them to make mistakes or fall short of scams.

These errors lead to more serious consequences. Tessian has found that not only are the stakes higher, but companies are less forgiving of mistakes that turn into serious data breaches. Nearly a third of employees lost a customer after emailing the wrong person, one in four lost their job, and 35% had to report the incident to a customer, threatening coveted relationships of trust.

To counter these mistakes, business leaders and IT managers must let go of the expectation that employees will make the right decision 100% of the time.

Instead, they need to invest in smart technology solutions that understand human behaviors to help stop people’s mistakes. before they turn into safety incidents and create shameless safety cultures to encourage employees to admit mistakes and ask questions. Rather than scaring employees into compliance, find ways for them to engage with safety by creating positive experiences to cement a mindset of partnership between safety teams and staff.

For its report, Tessian surveyed 2,000 working professionals in the US and UK

Read Tessian’s full report.

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