IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Employee stress leads to greater cyber risk for Australian companies

By Catherine Knowles
Wed 4 Aug 2021

More than half (55%) of Australian employees feel their stress levels are impacting their ability to focus on their job, and are undertaking risky behaviours that expose organisations to cyber threats.

This is according to new research from Forcepoint, that investigated how the shift to working from home has impacted people’s behaviours and attitudes.

Investigating different attitudes and behaviours based on age

When considering different generations, the research finds that while both older (aged 55+) and younger employees report similar levels of organisational support - whether that’s additional training, the right equipment to do their job or feeling valued at work - their emotional experiences and their use of technology is very different.

In fact, three quarters (76%) of younger employees say they feel stressed by competing demands from their personal and professional lives, compared to 48% of older workers, and 73% stated they feel the pressure to be available outside of normal working hours, compared to just over half (56%) of older workers.

Furthermore, seven in ten (70%) younger employees also reported that they feel at risk of burnout, compared to 43% of older employees.

Younger employees also revealed significant stress and anxieties about their job security compared to other age groups, with 67% stating they are worried about their job performance and ability to do their job well. Finally, half (50%) of younger workers say they struggle to understand their professional goals.

When it comes to the impact of this stress, Forcepoint questioned Australian employees on their behaviour while working from home.

A third (33%) of younger people reported making more mistakes when working from home - a number that rises to almost four in ten (38%) people who haven't worked remotely prior to COVID-19.

Additionally, half of younger workers stated that distractions whilst working from home negatively impact decision making.

These risky behaviours also extend to technology use. 41% of younger workers said they used ‘shadow IT’, that is, non-company approved IT systems, devices, software, applications, and services, as it allows them to perform certain tasks more easily.

More than one in five (22%) also said they allowed members of their household to use their corporate devices, compared to just 7% of older workers.

Forcepoint principal research scientist Dr Margaret Cunningham, commented on the results: “Throughout the study we consistently found younger workers were the most negatively impacted by work-from-home mandates.

"They reported higher stress levels and greater uncertainty regarding their job security, and also felt increased pressured by time or work commitments.

"Ultimately younger workers also reported higher rates of risky behaviours so that they could get their jobs done, which exposes organisations to increased cybersecurity risks.”

Considering the greater demand on caregivers

The report finds that caregivers are also feeling the pressure of working from home. The research reveals 67% of caregivers feel stressed out by competing demands from personal and professional life, with the same number (67%) stating they feel the pressure to be available outside of normal working hours.

Half of caregivers said they find it difficult to make day-to-day professional decisions while working from home, and 57% are also worried about their ability to do their job well, the study shows.

When it comes to the impact of lockdown on caregivers, the study reveals an increase in risky behaviours.

Almost half (45%) of caregivers said that distractions impact their decision making whilst working from home, and 39% stated they needed shadow IT to get their job done. 22% of caregivers have allowed members of their household to access corporate devices, compared with 8% of non-caregivers.

The impact of state-based lockdowns

The research also looked into the impact of the state-based lockdowns. According to Forcepoint, while Queenslanders have been feeling the stress of the past 18 months, workers from the sunshine state have coped better than their NSW and Victorian counterparts, who have experienced stricter lockdowns.

The study shows that 58% of Queenslanders report feeling stressed out by competing demands from their personal and professional lives, compared with 64% of NSW workers and 68% of people in Victoria.

Similarly, 42% of Queensland workers say they have difficulty separating their personal and professional lives (vs 60% in NSW and 57% in Victoria), and more than half (55%) feel more pressure to be available outside of normal working hours, compared with 72% of workers in NSW and 67% in Victoria.

These comparatively low stress levels are reflected in Queensland workers’ confidence in their ability to effectively work from home - only 17% of Queenslanders say they tend to make more mistakes when working from home, compared with 28% of NSW and 26% of Victorian workers.

However, the three states are almost on par when it comes to shadow IT use - 32% of Queensland workers, 34% of NSW workers and 35% of Victorians say they need shadow IT to get their job done.

Commentary from the experts

Forcepoint senior director of strategic business APAC, Nick Savvides, says, “We know that Australian workers, and younger workers especially, are feeling less connected to their employers and less sure about their future job security than ever. The questions employers need to ask are: are these stressors making my employees more likely to take risks? And how can I mitigate that behaviour?

“The instinct might be to increase security - but actually, constraining the way that people work in an attempt to protect every single last piece of data will actually make things worse, because staff are going to feel less able to do a good job.

"Instead, by ensuring staff have to tools and support they need to operate effectively, employers can turn their workforce into a strong barrier against unnecessary data breaches.”

Dr. Cunningham says, “The past 18 months have been stressful for everyone, and while many employers supported employees with enhanced technology and connectivity, other more human factors must not be overlooked.

"Interruptions, distractions, and split attention can be physically and emotionally draining, which makes reports of risky technology unsurprising. Choosing the path of least resistance, such as using the unsupported or unsecured technology, can be linked to factors such as decision fatigue and motivated reasoning."

Cunningham concludes, “Companies and business leaders need to take into account the unique psychological and physical situation of their home workers when it comes to effective IT protection.

"They need to make their employees feel comfortable in their home offices, raise their awareness of IT security and also model positive behaviours. Knowing the rules, both written and implied, and then designing behaviour-centric metrics surrounding the rules can help us mitigate the negative impact of these risky behaviours.”

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
LG Electronics
LG Electronics brings on Aussie AV distributor Alloys
LG Electronics Australia Business Solutions has appointed Australian AV distributor Alloys as a new distribution partner.
Story image
Sustainability huge factor for APAC data centre managers
A new report reveals that 85% of data centre managers in APAC believe that sustainability will significantly impact operations and decision making.
Story image
Marketing technologies set to increase revenues - study
Marketing leaders say that investment in new marketing technologies (MarTech) will drive significantly increased revenues.
Story image
Aussie businesses buckle down on digital tech investments
Australian businesses are planning major investments in digital technologies to support ambitious expansion plans.
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
BT builds on Equinix partnership with new cloud offering
BT has launched a next-generation cloud connectivity offering extending its global network into strategic carrier-neutral facilities (CNFs) and building on its existing partnership with Equinix.
Story image
ABI Research
NaaS market expected to reach $150B by 2030 - research
"The market is immature and fragmented, but telco market revenue will exceed US$75 billion by 2030 if they act now and transform to align with requirements."
Story image
MYOB snaps up Sydney-based management software specialists
MYOB has announced the acquisition of Sydney-based business management software and support specialists, GT Business Solutions.
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain
The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
ASI Solutions
Western Australia CUA panel picks ASI as preferred supplier
Western Australia's Common User Arrangement (CUA) panel has chosen ASI Solutions as a preferred supplier for device hardware.
Story image
Elders signs five-year agreement with Microsoft to boost innovation
Australian agribusiness Elders has signed a five-year agreement with Microsoft that looks to transform its customer experience, efficiency and sustainability outcomes.
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Bridgestone Australia uses Dematic's AGVs to optimise warehouse operations
Bridgestone Australia has deployed Dematic's Automated Guided Vehicle solution across its new Melbourne warehouse in Truganina.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Munro Footwear Group chooses Boomi to assist with digitisation strategy
Munro Footwear Group (MFG) has selected Boomi to assist with its eCommerce and digital transformation roadmap goals.
Story image
Rubber Monkey gears up for Aussie market with latest capital raise
Rubber Monkey is seeking to raise up to NZ$2.5 million of new capital through online investment platform, Snowball Effect.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.
Story image
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
To win at 5G, telcos must tame their quoting chaos
The catalogs of CSP (communication service providers) market offerings are set to explode as new digital services emerge, powered by B2B2X business models.
Story image
Data Protection
Five signs your business is ready to move to the cloud
Many organisations are thinking about moving to the cloud. But what are the signs you are ready, and what are the reasons to move?
Story image
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Four factors to consider when choosing the right job accounting solution
Progressive job-based businesses can achieve success by strengthening their ability to quantify every cost attributable to the delivery of an outcome for a customer.
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Story image
Honeywell named Frankston facility services provider
Honeywell has been named the joint facility services provider for Frankston Hospital’s AU$1.1 billion redevelopment.
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
Story image
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Southern Cross Cable
Southern Cross Cable launches the SX NEXT cable to connect NZ to the world
The new Southern Cross NEXT fibre cable (SX NEXT) is set to connect Australasia to the US and further enhance connectivity between New Zealand, Australia, and the US.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Decision Inc. partners with to expand offering
Decision Inc. Australia has partnered with to expand its offering to clients in the retail, FMCG, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics sectors.
Story image
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
Story image
Thales on recruitment hunt for next disruptive innovations
"Recruiting new talent is part of Thales's belief in the power of innovation and technological progress to build a safer, greener and more inclusive world."
Story image
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.