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

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According to new research from email security company Tessian, one in four employees lost their job after a mistake that compromised the security of their company.

The second edition of the report provides an updated overview of the factors that cause employees to make security mistakes at work, and the increasing severity of the consequences that follow.

The report found that more people are falling for sophisticated and sophisticated attacks. In 2022, 52% of employees fell for phishing emails posing as a senior executive of the company – up from 41% in 2020 – and a third were tricked by a text message phishing (smishing) message. These data points validate some of the findings published last week in the FBI’s annual IC3 report, which found that phishing and corporate email scams are becoming more sophisticated and pervasive than any other online threat.

Graphical representation of the number of workers in the UK and US experiencing burnout and making mistakes on the job.  The full results of this image are available in the copy of the article.

Employees today face many distractions and stressors that weren’t a problem two years ago, including Zoom fatigue and burnout due to the always-on mentality that comes with remote working. Professor Jeff Hancock of Stanford University, who contributed to the report, points out that these factors can often overwhelm people’s cognitive load and make them make mistakes or be more prone to scams.

These errors have more serious consequences. Tessian found that not only is there more at stake, but companies are also becoming less forgiving of mistakes that lead to serious data breaches. Nearly a third of employees lost a customer or customer after sending an email to the wrong person, one in four lost their job and 35% had to report the incident to a customer, threatening coveted, on trust-based relationships.

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

Instead, they need to invest in intelligent technology solutions that understand human behavior to stop people’s mistakes before they turn into security incidents, and create shameless security cultures to encourage employees to admit their mistakes and ask questions. Rather than scaring employees about compliance, find ways to handle security by creating positive experiences to strengthen a partnership mindset between security teams and staff.

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

Read Tessian’s full report.

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