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Employees suffering higher levels of ‘cyber stress’ in workplace

Kaspersky Lab study says that news of data breaches and pressures to manage multiple online accounts are causing German workers increased stress levels.

Kaspersky Lab surveyed a sample of people employed in offices across Europe on what caused them anxiety in the workplace, and found that 36 per cent of European employees rated hacking as more stressful than admitting to a mistake (30 per cent) or their manager seeing their private emails (29 per cent).

There is cause for these levels of anxiety, with 50 per cent of survey respondents having experienced a cyber security incident in the past five years, and 44 per cent of people expecting to experience a cyber security issue in the next year at work; this rises to 46 per cent for small-to mid-sized businesses.

The study also found that that:

  • 69 per cent of people admit to being stressed by news of data breaches.
  • 73 per cent of people reveal the number of passwords they have to manage is causing them undue stress.
  • 72 per cent of people having feelings of stress when it comes to protecting their devices.
  • 66 per cent are overwhelmed by the amount of sensitive information they have.

However, when asked about their fears and expectations for cyber security issues on their home devices, survey respondents rated the threat as far higher – 58 per cent of people worry about being the target of a cybersecurity issue at home, compared against 48 per cent worrying about it happening at work. This is perhaps because employees trust their employer to protect them against cyber threats at work, with 67 per cent having confidence in their employer’s cybersecurity practices, Kaspersky Lab suggests.

“Cyber ​​stress in the workplace can be a significant health burden. In the working context, we can assume such stress could eventually lead to absenteeism, illness and eventually even leaving the organisation as commitment and competence has to compete against stress,” Dr. Frank Schwab, Media Psychologist at Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg. “Stress is usually accompanied by anger, contempt or shame and leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Some level of stress at work is inevitable but taking back control is key and this can easily be done in the case of cyber related stress.”

“With cyber attacks and data breaches remaining ever present in the media, it is clear employees have never been more aware of the risks posed and this is leading to increased levels of stress as they struggle to understand their responsibilities,” said David Emm, Principle Security Researcher, at Kaspersky Lab. “Both businesses and their employees must be responsible for taking proactive steps to learn more about cybersecurity and implement security solutions. Through education and action, cybersecurity can become a source of empowerment rather than frustration, and employees can understand how to embrace and utilise technology safely – instead of allowing it to create cyber-stress.”