Almost a third of UK workers at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have fallen victim to phishing emails since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, with nearly half of those emails related to the pandemic.
That is according to a new study of SMEs by Capterra, which warned that the coronavirus crisis has exposed a lack of preparation for the cyber risks of remote working.
The software research company found that 30% of workers have fallen victim to phishing emails – which hackers use to steal passwords – during lockdown, 45% of which were related to coronavirus.
The findings also show that 33% of workers have a main password that they use across multiple sites, and that 52% share it between personal and business accounts.
Moreover, the study found that just 15% of SME workers have strong passwords with randomised letters, numbers, and characters.
“Over half of the British workforce is now remote as a result of COVID-19,” Capterra said in a blog. “Passwords are often the only barrier to the most valuable data and information in your company.
“Despite the majority of workers stating they are pleased with working from home, the adoption of security measures still has room for improvement.”
The study also found that a quarter of workers do not know exactly who is responsible for cyber security at their organisation, and that 15% of remote employees have not had any cyber security courses or training
In addition, the results show the number of workers using firewalls and Virtual Private Network (VPN) is significantly low, with just 8% and 7% doing so respectively.
This comes after James Stickland, CEO of identity authentication software company Veridium, warned that the COVID-19 outbreak poses the greatest cyber security threat to businesses seen in recent times.
He said today: “Capterra’s findings demonstrate the extent to which businesses and employees worldwide are battling with password security, which is directly linked to the high number of phishing attack victims and rising fraud.
“COVID-19 is now posing the biggest-ever cyber security threat, causing phishing attacks to rise over 600% since February as malicious actors trick users via fake coronavirus alerts.
“This is forcing businesses to rethink and overhaul their security strategies in an increasingly vulnerable landscape.”
Author: Chris Seekings
Image credit: iStock