How Financial Services Employees Feel about Cybersecurity

A new study shows that most people working in regulatorily sensitive industries such as financial services are aware of the importance of cybersecurity and privacy policies, but employers should still shape their communications to include more practical tips.

By DJ Shaw

As more employers invest in cybersecurity initiatives and the workforce becomes increasingly autonomous in a post-pandemic world, Mobile Mentor, a company that provides security and support for remote workers, has released a study that explores how employees perceive privacy, security, productivity and personal well-being in the modern workforce.

Mobile Mentor says the goal of its inaugural report, “The Endpoint Ecosystem 2022 National Study,” is to educate and inform employers in regulatorily sensitive industries how to prevent security breaches—and then how to attract and retain motivated employees.

The pandemic forced many people to work remotely and to utilize both work and personal devices, the study notes. In part due to the growth of remote-first work during the pandemic, there has been a 500% increase in cybercrime, which in turn increases the focus on cybersecurity training in industries such as health care and financial services.

In the U.S., 61% of financial industry employees see a security policy every time they log on to their computer. However, survey evidence suggests many employees don’t actually read security policies, and instead just click to agree. The study suggests a more effective reminder would be using short practical tips or a thought-provoking question on security.

The study finds there is a healthy and appropriate fear of data breaches, both from an organizational and personal standpoint. Some 63% of employees believe they will get fired for a data breach, while 59% believe their executives should be fired for a breach. A whopping 33% know someone who caused a breach. The study authors say these numbers show workers in the financial services industry are more aware of the gravity and cost of a security breach relative to other sectors.

Passwords present a major vulnerability, according to the study. The responses show government workers have the least number of passwords and often the least sophisticated, while those in finance have a greater number of strong passwords. According to the study, 18% of people in the finance industry use the password reset feature daily, while younger employees use “forgot password” or “reset password” features at work much more than older workers. Across all industries, only 31% of people manage their passwords with a password management tool, while 29% write work passwords in a personal journal and 24% store work passwords using notes on their phone.

Another security risk highlighted in the survey relates to the use of personal devices. While 64% of people use personal devices at work, only 31% of employers have a secure “bring your own device” program. Unsecure personal devices can put companies at significant risk when company data is exposed on an unmanaged app on an unmanaged device with no security controls.

Health care workers feel the strongest of any industry about protecting their personal information, while Baby Boomers feel the strongest about protecting their personal information, the study says. Generation Z showed an extreme bias for privacy over security, with 82% saying their personal privacy is more important than company security.

According to the study, younger workers (Gen Z and young Millennials) don’t see a clear line between their work and personal lives. The study shows that 57% of younger employees use their work devices for personal use, while 71% use a personal device for work and 46% allow family members to use their work devices.

The study also looked at where employees felt the most productive and satisfied, with workers across all industries and generations feeling more productive working in an office than at home. Other findings show financial workers care the most about job satisfaction and government workers the least. Additionally, 71% of remote workers report better job satisfaction now than they did two years ago, while only 53% of office workers say the same.