Cyberchology: The Human Element of Cybersecurity
Stress affects different personality types in different ways, meaning each individual employee has their own specific blind spot when it comes to cybersecurity. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ESET and The Myers-Briggs Company release Cyberchology – The Human Element, a brand new report investigating the link between cybersecurity, personality and stress.
This year has presented all of us with a major challenge in the form of COVID-19. It goes without saying that the pandemic has posed significant difficulties both for individuals and for businesses across all sectors this year, forcing many teams to completely change the way work. With remote working imposed on many employees with little warning earlier this year, new research has found that 80% of companies experienced an increased cybersecurity risk caused by human factors during the pandemic.
This is according to Cyberchology: The Human Element, a brand new report created by ESET and The Myers-Briggs Company, one of the world’s leading business psychology providers. This brand partnership has been running since 2019, that explores the role employees and their personality play in keeping organisations safe from cyber threats. The latest Cyberchology report investigates the attitudes of 2,000 consumers and over 100 Chief Information Security Officers in the UK, with psychological research examining the link between cybersecurity, personality and stress in a virtual world.
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The report found that 75% of companies say that half of their business is being undertaken by employees who are now working remotely – but weren't doing so before COVID-19, showing a highly dispersed current workforce. With CISOs reporting a 63% increase in cybercrime since the COVID-19 lockdown began, and remote working here to stay for many employees, businesses are more at risk than ever.
However, despite this clear increase in cybersecurity threats, 40% of CISOs reported that COVID-19 had no impact on the size of their IT security budget compared with the previous planned budget, and only a quarter of businesses would consider their remote working strategy and operations plan effective.
Meanwhile, the report found that over two thirds of consumers were concerned about their cybersecurity but didn’t know what to do about it, and nearly half of respondents were concerned about their ability to manage stress during the pandemic. Stress affects different personality types in different ways, meaning that each individual employee has their own specific blind spot when it comes to cybersecurity. As the pandemic has raised stress levels, staff members may be more likely to panic and click on a malicious link or fail to report a security breach to the IT team, depending on their personality type.
The paper therefore encourages businesses to implement a holistic cybersecurity strategy that takes individual personalities into account.
Discussing the findings of the Cyberchology paper, Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET, stated: “Remote working has brought greater flexibility to the workforce, but has also dramatically altered business processes and systems. The combination of fractured IT systems, a lack of central security, the sudden shift to home working, and a global climate of stress and concern is a perfect breeding ground for a successful cyberattack. The fact that only a quarter of businesses have faith in their own remote working strategy is shocking and shows there is much work to be done to secure working from home.”
John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, commented: “Cybersecurity has long been thought of as the responsibility of IT departments alone, but in order to build a holistic cybersecurity strategy that accounts for the human factor, IT and HR departments must work together. Through the use of psychometric testing and self-awareness tools, HR can help to identify the makeup of teams and pinpoint potential vulnerabilities. IT teams can use this insight to create comprehensive security protocols and a proactive cyber strategy to stay one step ahead of potential threats.”
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