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The Hybrid Workplace at Risk: Europeans Are More Concerned about Internet Security than Ever Before, Yet More than Half are Unaware of Mobile Phishing Threats

New Unisys Security Index™ finds internet-based fraud tops the list of worries, with financial security becoming a bigger concern

LONDON, October 26, 2021 – According to the new 2021 Unisys Security Index™, concerns in Europe around Internet Security (including computer viruses and hacking) are at the highest level in the 15 years that Unisys has been running the study. The report which examines security attitudes of 11,000 consumers globally of which 5,000 are from Europe also shows a particular increase in worries about financial security.

The survey found that while Europeans have lower security concerns compared to their counterparts in Latin America and the U.S., every country surveyed saw a rise in internet security concerns over 2020. Despite their increased levels of concern, the survey found that most European respondents were unaware of many cybersecurity threats, putting both themselves and their employers at risk. Additionally, the report uncovered potential strains between employers and employees regarding the monitoring of digital activity for remote workers, as well as privacy concerns around vaccination and medical history in the workplace.

Key findings include:

  • More than half (56%) said they are not familiar with the threat of SMS phishing (also known as ‘SMiShing’), which is when a scammer texts via mobile asking for personal or financial information;
  • More than four in five (82%) are unaware of SIM jacking, which is when a scammer gets your phone number transferred to a phone they control;
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of Europeans do not know which organisations to report scams to if they were a victim, though that is higher for Germans (85% unaware); and
  • More than two-thirds of Europeans said they would not be comfortable with their employer monitoring login and log out times, with one-fifth (20%) saying they would not be comfortable with their employer monitoring response times of software applications.

In terms of internet security, the findings pose a stark warning for both employees and their employers as cyberattacks continue to rise in scope and complexity, and as many organisations continue to navigate remote and hybrid work environments.

“As the line between home internet security and work cyber security continues to blur, enterprises now have to look at solutions that offer their employees protection for traditional end-points as well as overall home security,” said Salvatore Sinno, director of cybersecurity innovation at Unisys. “But the hybrid world also means we want the same experience we have with technology at home, at work. So, we are tempted to download and install non-supported software and apps for professional purposes because we also use them in our personal lives. Years ago, the trend was BYOD. Now, we see a new trend with BYOA - Bring Your Own App. This poses a great risk for organisations, and they need to focus on solutions to control and mitigate this.”

Tensions Rising as Employers Navigate Privacy and Monitoring in Age of Hybrid Work

The survey also shows that the tension between data privacy and health is felt across Europe. As the public and its employers navigate the return to a ‘new normal,’ their opinion on whether privacy or health should be prioritised is divided. In Germany, people are split over whether data privacy (39%) or tracing COVID-19 infections (38%) is more important. Seven in eight (86%) Europeans are not comfortable using facial recognition to authenticate that they are the person using their computer remotely, and 80% are not comfortable letting their employer monitor the response times of software applications used in their role, even if just to quickly identify any IT issues that might impact them.

While the levels of reluctance to share private date vary from country to country, they have an impact on how businesses can create a productive hybrid working environment for their staff.

“Work paradigms are changing, but the guardrails and tools have not yet caught up,” said Bill Brown, global vice president, Business Process Solutions at Unisys. “This is similar to when horse and cart paths began to be dominated by automobiles. Areas which previously did not have to be regulated now needed to be. The change also accelerated the development of technologies to manage the new realities. Companies navigating through such profound change would do well to assume that the ground is uncharted, and to take the time to examine what their assumptions are around security – and to challenge the basis of those assumptions.”

2021 Unisys Security Index: 15 Years and Counting

The Unisys Security Index is the longest-running snapshot of consumer security concerns conducted in Europe and globally. The 2021 Index surveyed 11,000 consumers in 11 countries, in July 2021. Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) gauged their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues dealing with personal, national, internet and financial security. On a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of concern, the global Index is now at 162.

Prioritising their worries, identity fraud (50%), bankcard fraud (47%) and hacking/viruses (46%) are seen as extremely or very concerning by Europeans. This is followed by national security (42%), natural disasters and online shopping (40% each), financial obligations (35%) and personal safety (34%). Across Europe, financial security concerns which includes bankcard fraud and financial obligations rose substantially. While Belgium bucks this trend with a drop of 3 points as a result of successful government support measures, this is particularly true for the UK, with an increase of 11 points. Financial challenges created by the pandemic including job losses are likely to have created financial burdens and concerns for more people than in previous years.

For more results and information on the 2021 Unisys Security Index, click here.

About Unisys

Unisys is a global IT solutions company that delivers successful outcomes for the most demanding businesses and governments. Unisys offerings include digital workplace solutions, cloud and infrastructure solutions, enterprise computing solutions, business process solutions and cybersecurity solutions. For more information on how Unisys delivers for its clients across the commercial, financial services and government markets, visit www.unisys.com.

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Contact:
Claire Ramage, Unisys, claire.ramage@unisys.com

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