A research from email security firm Tessian found that stressed and distracted employees are exposing organizations to cybersecurity risks. In its report “The Psychology of Human Error,” Tessian revealed that 43% of employees have made mistakes that led to security incidents, in turn jeopardizing the organization’s cybersecurity. 52% of employees admitted that they make more mistakes when they are stressed, whereas 43% of them said they are more error-prone when tired. Around 58% of employees have sent an email to the wrong person at work, and 1 in 5 companies lost customers due to misdirected emails sent to unknown person outside the organization.
Risks from Distraction
The research also highlighted that 33% of employees never think about cybersecurity while working. Nearly 45% of respondents cited distraction as the primary reason for falling for a phishing scam. And 57% of employees admitted that they are more distracted when working from home. Other reasons for employees falling for phishing attempts are: the perceived legitimacy of the email (43%) and the fact that it appeared to have come from either a senior executive (41%) or a well-known brand (40%).
Phishing is one of the major security risks for an organization, as attackers try to target the entire network system. It is found that 1 in 4 employees (25%) said they have clicked on a phishing email at work. Men were twice as likely as women to fall for phishing scams, with 34% of male respondents saying they have clicked on a link in a phishing email versus just 17% of women. The research also stated that older employees were the least susceptible to phishing scams, with just 8% of them admitting they clicked on a phishing link.
“The older generation has, in many ways, the potential tools and mindsets needed for detecting phishing attacks. They have more life experience, and they tend to have strong, close networks which means they are good at detecting when something does not feel quite right. But if you are less experienced with these kinds of attacks, they are going to be harder for you to spot,” said Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock.
“Understanding how stress impacts behavior is critical to improving cybersecurity. When people are stressed and distracted, they tend to make mistakes or decisions they later regret. Working in unusual environments can be stressful and distracting. The events of 2020 mean our personal and professional spaces have blurred, and we’ve had to quickly learn new ways of operating and this has its challenges,” Hancock added.