Mimecast Limited, leading email security and cyber resilience company, today released new research that highlights the risky behavior of employees using company-issued devices. More than 1,000 respondents in countries throughout the globe were asked about their use of work devices for personal activities and how aware they are of today’s cyber risks.

 

Nearly a third of UAE professionals admit to opening emails they considered suspicious
Josh Douglas, vice president of threat intelligence

 

Earlier this year, an urgent request for IT teams across the globe was to ensure the efficient issuance of laptops and other computing devices to employees, as much of the workforce started working remotely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

The Blurring of Personal and Professional Life

Mimecast’s research found that in the UAE, 87% of respondents extensively use their company-issued device for personal matters, with two-thirds (66%) admitting to an increase in frequency since starting to work remotely. The most common activities were checking personal email (57%), carrying out financial transactions (59%), and video calls with friends and family (50%).

In the Middle East, 66% of respondents said there was a risk of checking personal email as the cause of a serious security mistake, and 65% thought surfing the web or online shopping could likely cause an incident.

Awareness Training Doesn’t Always Mean Correct Behavior

Encouragingly, all of the respondents in the UAE (100%) claim to be aware that links in email, on social media sites, and on websites can potentially infect their devices. Eighty-one percent have even received special cybersecurity awareness training related to working from home during the pandemic. However, this doesn’t always translate into putting this knowledge into practice. 

Despite the majority of respondents stating that they’ve had special awareness training, 61% still opened emails they considered to be suspicious. Meanwhile, 50% of the respondents admitted to not reporting suspicious emails to their IT or security teams.

The Younger Generation Can Be an Organization’s Greatest Risk

Despite being the most tech-savvy generation, younger workers may be putting organizations at greater risk. Surprisingly, 50% of the 16-24 age group in the UAE admitted to opening emails even though they looked suspicious. This group is also more guilty of blurring the lines between their business and personal usage of these devices.

Everyone in the 16-24 age group (100%) reported using their issued devices for personal use, while only 50% of the older – 45-54- group admitted the same.

Respondents averaged 2.5 hours of personal activity on their work devices a day, above the global average of 1.9 hours. Over a third (34%) clocked more than 3 hours of non-work-related screen time, against a global average of 22%.

The research also revealed how habits differ between males and females. In the UAE, 92% of men reported using their corporate device for personal business versus 75% of women.

Methodology

Data was collected by Censuswide in September 2020 with more than 1,000 respondents from organizations in the United Kingdom, United States (US), Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Organizations included have greater than 100 employees and currently have a company-issued mobile device, laptop, or computer for work.