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43 per cent of employees have made mistakes resulting in cybersecurity repercussions for themselves or their company, according to a new global report from email security firm, Tessian. The Psychology of Human Error report surveyed 1,000 workers in the UK and 1,000 workers in the US at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in April, to reveal how stress, distraction and workplace disruption can cause people to make more mistakes at work.

Worryingly, the report found that 20% of companies have lost customers as a result of mistakenly sending an email to the wrong person – an error the majority of employees (58%) admitted to doing. A further 10% of workers said they had lost their job after sending an email to the wrong person.

In addition, 25% of survey respondents admitted to clicking on a link in a phishing email at work. Interestingly, workers in the tech industry were the most likely to click on links in phishing emails, with 47% of respondents in this sector admitting they had done so.

When analysing why these mistakes happen, being distracted came out on top. 47% of respondents cited distraction as the top reason for falling for a phishing scam, while 41% said this was why they had sent an email to the wrong person. With 57% of workers admitting they’re more distracted when working from home, Tessian’s report suggests the sudden shift to remote working this year could open employees and businesses up to even more risks caused by human error.

Other reasons for people clicking on phishing emails included the perceived legitimacy of the email (43%) and the fact that the emails appeared to have come from either a senior executive (41%) or a well-known brand (41%). Fatigue was another factor that drove 44% of employees to sending an email to the wrong person.

With employees saying they make more mistakes at work when they are stressed (52%), tired (43%) and distracted (41%), the report urges businesses to understand the impact stress and working cultures have on human error and cybersecurity, especially in light of this year’s events.

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