Many of us Brits like to think we are different to our continental neighbours. There are plenty of things that point to us being unique and our mobile habits seem to back this up. Research shows that us Brits really do think differently to our European counterparts.
A global study by A10 Networks found that there are differing attitudes in Europe to app security and smartphone usage. Most notably, Britons tend to flout the rules, the French possess a laissez-faire attitude towards security and the Germans are more likely to be sticklers for the regulations, according to the report. The research, which encompassed the views of 2,000 business and IT professionals in 10 countries, shows that Brits are more dependent on their apps than the French and Germans but are also, worryingly, far more likely to use personal applications that are not sanctioned by their employer.
This is interesting because the results collectively establish a pattern that shows Britons are very dependent on apps, aware of cybersecurity risks and yet will still use unsanctioned apps and not take personal responsibility for cybersecurity. A careless attitude toward security can introduce new threats that begin their attacks before the user even knows it.
This attitude is notably different to those of the French survey respondents. According to the survey, the French were the least likely in Europe to understand their company's security policies and they were also the most likely to accept that a cyberattack personally affecting them is inevitable, with 43% trying not to think about it and 42% saying it is a fact of life. In both Germany and the UK only 26% believed that becoming a victim of a cyber-attack "was a fact of life".
The German results in the survey displayed a markedly different attitude to Britons, and the French, when it came to how they conduct business and their cultural attitudes towards apps and security. For example, compared to other countries, German employees are most likely to use different passwords for all their apps (34%); only 5% used the same password for all their apps. In contrast, only 17% of British workers use a different password for all their apps and a much higher 14% use the same password for all their apps. Clearly, this has serious implications for defending networks and data against cyber-attacks.
Also in the report, the Germans displayed far less reliance on apps, with only 24% stating that they cannot live without personal and work-related apps. By comparison, 35% of the French surveyed said the same and 55% of Britons reckoned they couldn't function without apps. This was the second highest figure in the world, greater than Americans, but less than Brazilians, of whom a staggering 63% stated they could not live without apps.
What does this research show us and what does it mean?
The research shows differing attitudes towards the use of smartphones; adherence to the policies put in place by professionals tasked with network security; and the reliance workforces across Europe have on apps for personal and business use. Understanding the varying cultures and human behaviours that underpin how people work can help organisations truly implement effective defences against the ever-increasing threats from cyber-attacks.
Employees often unknowingly weaken cybersecurity and the use of unsanctioned apps, along with often poor understanding of corporate security policies, increases the risks that come with a growing reliance on disparate and app-dependent workforces. At the core of security is people, who can be its best asset or its biggest weakness; they need to understand and appreciate why security is important and the vital role they play in keeping the bad guys out.
If security teams have a good understanding of their end user it will help them to better implement effective security processes and technologies. Combining effective technology with training that makes end users more aware of the risks from cyberattacks is crucial. With GDPR coming into force the penalties for breaches are increasingly significantly, so it's time for organisations to embrace 'le difference' and put this knowledge to work in strengthening user awareness of security.