Employees look to avoid snooping employers

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Nearly a quarter of UK remote workers prefer using personally owned technology to work devices so they can avoid employee monitoring by their companies.

Research by global cybersecurity firm Kapersky found that almost half (44%) of home workers were subject to monitoring software and that 24% were using personal technology to circumvent it. Three in 10 (31%) told researchers they were likely to use their own devices more for work if company-provided devices had monitoring software installed.

About a quarter of UK employers (24%) said they would leave their job if they felt their privacy was being invaded.

Kaspersky said the study pointed to a “serious need for employers to examine their surveillance practices to understand the true impact on productivity and employee satisfaction”.

The firm added that with remote or hybrid working set to be permanent for many of us, ethical concerns around installation of surveillance software was paving the way for a rise in shadow IT.

Its survey of 2,000 full-time workers in the UK revealed that one-third (34%) of workers said they felt that employer monitoring has increased since the start of the pandemic.

A quarter of these people did not report any negative upshots to this but 32% revealed that the use of monitoring tools would make them less trusting of their manager or team leader and 30% said they would be upset at the invasion of their privacy.

Surveillance included email monitoring (16%), internet and app usage (15%), phone use (12%) and even location tracking (9%). This was “pushing some workers to take their work activities off the grid and out of sight” claimed Kaspersky.

Because more employees were now using unapproved devices to avoid surveillance, many organisations’ networks were becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Kaspersky said such attacks had risen over the past year but team leaders needed to appreciate better the risk of people now managing and working with data outside of the corporate network on personal devices.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, said: “Given the drastic working routine changes that everyone has gone through over the last year, it’s understood that some employers might use monitoring tools. They can’t recapture the same office-based levels of accountability otherwise. However, there is likely to be a tipping point for many workers, and this study has already shown that if businesses go too far, employees may take their entire at-home activities off the corporate radar.”

Employees working on their own devices creates shadow IT, which presents an immense risk to businesses, Emm added.

He pointed out that with more than 90% of all cyber breaches caused by human error, companies needed to have complete oversight of how their IT systems and hardware were being used by remote workforces, and so must carefully balance their monitoring activities.

The study found that 80% of managers trusted their staff to work effectively from home, but only just over half (54%) of workers said they felt trusted. Emm said businesses should be striving to maintain and improve this balance as they continue to feel their way into the new remote working world.

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