SMBs face increased security risks due to blurred work and personal life boundaries

Small businesses are being exposed to a greater level of security threats by employees, with the line between their staff’s working and personal lives becoming increasingly blurred.

This is according to a survey of 1,000 SMB employees which was undertaken by TalkTalk Business following Safer Internet Day earlier this week.

The survey found that 70 per cent of respondents said they took work home with them, with an average of 1.7 hours of toil being done in the evenings and weekends at home.

But those same employees are then feeling that because they’re working in their own time, they can spend some time at work on personal matters – some 82 per cent do so, and over a third of those are guilty of spending in excess of two hours every day.

TalkTalk Business notes that this blurring of work and play increases the risk of cyber-attacks on the SMB, particularly as the survey also determined that only 40 per cent of men claimed they easily spotted security threats online, and 50 per cent of women.

Hitting dodgy websites at work is obviously a problem, as it is at home if the employee is transferring work files back and forth, which may then become infected with whatever nastiness is on the home computer.

The survey found that the most common diversions staff partook of on work PCs were checking the news headlines, online shopping, and organising things such as ticket bookings.

Some of the respondents saw the danger inherent in these activities, but only a third felt that online shopping while at work was a risk for the SMB – and only a quarter felt that streaming video could be problematic.

Charles Bligh, MD of TalkTalk Business, commented: “It isn’t surprising to see people catering to their own personal needs in office hours, but security solutions need to evolve to reflect that change of behaviour. Malicious content is getting more advanced and harder to spot – we only need to look at recent malware targeting the NHS or Yahoo for proof of that.”

TalkTalk is, of course, looking to push something here – in this case it’s WorkSafe network-level security solution which is bundled with the firm’s business broadband – but it does have a point about the risks here.

For a stack of great advice on keeping your SMB secure, see our complete guide to network security and firewall audits.