IBM Security report: Pandemic digital habits causing security risks for businesses

IBM Security report: Pandemic digital habits causing security risks for businesses

IBM Security has announced the results of a global survey examining consumers’ digital behaviours during the pandemic, as well as their long-term impact on cybersecurity. With society becoming increasingly accustomed to digital-first interactions, the study found that preferences for convenience often outweighed security and privacy concerns among individuals – leading to poor choices around passwords and other cybersecurity behaviours.

Consumers’ lax approach to security, combined with rapid Digital Transformation by businesses during the pandemic, may provide attackers with further ammunition to propagate cyberattacks across industries – from ransomware to data theft.

According to IBM Security X-Force, bad personal security habits also carry over to the workplace and can lead to costly security incidents for companies, with compromised user credentials representing one of the top root sources of cyberattacks in 2020.

The global survey of 22,000 individuals in 22 markets, including the Middle East across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM Security, identified the following effects of the pandemic on consumer security behaviours:

  • Digital boom will outlast pandemic protocols: Middle East respondents created, on average, 21 new online accounts during the pandemic – exercise and wellness, shopping and retail, and social media were the most popular categories
  • Account overload leads to password fatigue: The surge in digital accounts has led to lax password behaviours, with 91% of the Middle East respondents admitting to reusing credentials at least some of the time. This means a majority of new accounts created during the pandemic likely relied on reused email and password combinations
  • Convenience outweighs security and privacy: Half of the Middle East millennials would rather place an order using a potentially insecure app or website versus call or go to a physical location in person. With users more likely to overlook security concerns for the convenience of digital ordering, the burden of security will fall more heavily on companies providing these services to avoid fraud.
  • Accelerating telehealth and digital ID: As consumers lean further into digital interactions, these behaviours also have the potential to spur adoption of emerging technologies in a variety of settings – from telehealth to digital identity

“While the post-pandemic world brings new cyber-risks, the continuing success of digitisation initiatives among the countries of the Middle East, has also triggered a rising priority for cybersecurity at organisations of all sizes and across all industries,” said Hossam Seif El Din, General Manager, IBM Middle East and Pakistan. “Thanks to IBM’s deep understanding of the region’s security environment and challenges, we are fully equipped to support governments and businesses with the solutions and skills to adapt to the shifting consumer security landscape and be prepared against potential threats.”

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