Over one in five UK employees received Covid-19 phishing emails

The study from Webroot, an OpenText company, surveyed 7,000 office workers worldwide, and with employees globally receiving 34% more emails than this time last year, its results show that businesses need to remain vigilant about possible cyber security risks beyond Covid-19, as the government asks employees to work from home if they can.

When it comes to keeping networks protected, only 24% of UK employees said that their companies increased cyber security training during the pandemic.

Despite this, 75% of UK respondents believe that they have sufficient knowledge for keeping personal data safe from cyber attacks, the highest level of confidence among surveyed countries, while eight in 10 say they take steps to determine if an email message could be malicious.

Additionally, 66% said that they click emails from unknown senders regularly, and 71% admitted to not backing up their data, despite 36% needing to recover lost files since the pandemic began.

Regarding the devices UK employees use, one in four use their personal devices for work, while 13% use their work devices for personal matters, and 35% do both.

When it comes to taking responsibility for cyber security, only 24% think all employees should play a role in their company’s cyber resilience.

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Nick Emanuel, senior director of product at Webroot, said: “With mass work from home, an influx of emails and a general ‘always connected’ attitude, there are more opportunities for cyber criminals than ever before.

“Businesses and consumers must prioritise cyber resilience and recognise that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect their data.”

Global impacts of WFH

Over half (56%) of respondents worldwide have increased the amount of time they spend working from home.

Awareness is shown to have increased regarding phishing attacks, with one in three (34%) stating they are more concerned about phishing than they were at the start of 2020.

Also, one in five (22%) of participants globally said they received phishing emails specifically relating to Covid-19.

“People are on guard more with the pandemic, with many at home reading and watching the news, frequently receiving more content on the internet and on social, and sharing news – fake or true – at a higher rate,” said Dr. Prashanth Rajivan, assistant professor at the University of Washington.

“At the same time, people are also taking increased personal safety measures by social distancing and wearing masks. Together, these actions may be creating a false sense of confidence among employees that they’re more prepared to spot a phishing attack than they really are.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.