Workers could be forced back to office amid smart device security fears – BlackBerry cybersecurity

by | Sep 11, 2022

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BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) today revealed new research exposing the cybersecurity risks created by cost-conscious home workers who prioritise security behind price.

Despite 77% of smart devices in the home being purchased in the past two years, less than a third (32%) of British home workers who own a smart device said security was a top three factor when making these purchases, compared to 58% who prioritised price (figure 1).

Additionally, two in five businesses (41%) aren’t putting adequate security provisions in place to extend cyber protection as far as homes (figure 2), heightening the risk of cyberattacks for businesses and their employees, as hybrid and home working become the norm.

1,000 British home workers were quizzed on their purchasing habits and security when it comes to smart devices. Amidst the UK’s cost of living crisis, smart meters were the most purchased in general (19%), with 71% of those purchased over the last two years.

Similarly, the majority (79%) of smart thermostats were purchased in the last two years. However, as workers implement more smart home technology, the complexity of devices connected to the internet increases – and so does the potential threat surface for cybercriminals. In fact, cost-conscious home workers rank device security as low as fourth on their list of priorities when making these purchases.

Despite increased use of smart devices, only 21% of UK home workers say their employer has established a cybersecurity policy with advice for smart devices for the home office period.Furthermore, over 3 in 4 (79%) of Brits say their employers have taken no steps to secure home internet connection or provide software protection for home devices, to close vulnerabilities created by hybrid and home working. This is particularly concerning for SMBs who face upwards of eleven cyberattacks per device, per day, according to BlackBerry research

“In today’s economic climate, it is understandable that UK citizens want to reduce their overall energy usage through use of smart devices, while reaping the benefits of more flexible working patterns post-Covid. However, with device security far down the list for fraught buyers trying to cut costs, and employer protection of smart home devices only being afforded to few, there is a huge opening for cybercriminals looking to target UK enterprises, with knock-on effects to employees themselves,” said Keiron Holyome, VP UKI, Middle East and Africa at BlackBerry

Holyome continues, “Although these devices may seem innocent, bad actors can easily access home networks with connections to company devices – or company data on consumer devices – and steal data and intellectual property worth millions. Unfortunately, rising living costs, an impending recession, intensifying violence, and rising cyber insurance rates have created the perfect environment for cyber attackers. Both COVID-19 and the 2008–2009 financial crisis saw a surge in cybercrime, and in the coming months, we anticipate seeing a similar rise. Therefore, it is vital that British organisations evaluate their cybersecurity defences now to ensure they are prepared for the turbulent times ahead.” 

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