Study: WFH employees ‘confidently’ make 90% of all security awareness mistakes

In the free security awareness training on remote working that Kaspersky and Area9 Lyceum hosted, participants enacted correct responses 66% of the time.

In the past months, many companies switched to remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic. This change affected corporate security via a growing number of web-based attacks, coronavirus-related phishing, as well as the increased use of shadow IT. To help businesses improve their staff cybersecurity skills, Kaspersky and Area9 Lyceum released an adaptive learning course for those transitioning to at-home working, covering the basics of secure remote operations at the beginning of April 2020.

Analysis of anonymized learning results revealed that remote staff tends to overestimate the level of their knowledge of cybersecurity basics. In 90% of cases when learners selected a wrong answer, they evaluated their feelings toward the given response as “I know it” or “I think I know it.” This was revealed through an adaptive learning methodology, which asked learners to assess their levels of confidence in responses, as well as answer the test questions.

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The study also identified the most difficult learning objectives — the hardest being reasons to use virtual machines. As many as 60% of the given answers were wrong on this matter, with 90% of respondents falling into the “unconscious incompetence” category. This means that mistaken learners were still sure that they had selected the right answer or option.

Corporate IT resources

More than half of responses (52%) to questions about reasons why employees should use corporate IT resources (such as mail and messaging services or cloud storage) when working from home was incorrect. In 88% of cases, remote employees thought that they could explain this correctly. Almost the same proportion of mistakes (50%) was made when answering a question about how to install software updates. In this case, a staggering majority of 92% of those who had provided wrong answers, believed they had that required skill.

“If employees see no danger in risky actions, let’s say, in storing sensitive documents in personal storage, they are unlikely to seek advice from IT or IT Security departments,” said Denis Barinov, Head of the Kaspersky Academy. “From this perspective, it’s hard to change such behavior, because a person has an established habit and may not recognize the associated risks. As a result, ‘unconscious incompetence’ is one of the most difficult issues to identify and solve with security awareness training.”

To learn more about how the adaptive learning approach can be applied to make employees behave more securely, please visit the official Kaspersky Adaptive Online Training web page.