Despite popular assumptions that security risks increase as a person's online activity becomes shadier, the highest concentration of online security threats do not target pornography, pharmaceutical or gambling sites as much as they do legitimate destinations visited by mass audiences, such as major search engines, retail sites and social media outlets.
In fact, Cisco found that online shopping sites are 21 times as likely, and search engines are 27 times as likely, to deliver malicious content than a counterfeit software site. Viewing online advertisements? Advertisements are 182 as times likely to deliver malicious content than pornography.
Security risks rise in businesses because many employees adopt "my way" work lifestyles in which their devices, work and online behavior mix with their personal lives virtually anywhere – in the office, at home and everywhere in between. The business security implications of this "consumerization" trend are magnified by a second set of findings from the Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR), which provides insight into the attitudes of the world's next generation of workers, Generation Y.
According to the study, most Generation Y employees believe the age of privacy is over (91%), but one third say that they are not worried about all the data that is stored and captured about them. They are willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. In fact, more Generation Y workers globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers' IT departments – departments that are paid to protect employee identities and devices.
As Generation Y graduates from college and enters the workforce in greater numbers, they test corporate cultures and policies with expectations of social media freedom, device choice, and mobile lifestyles that the generations before them never demanded.
As the first chapter of the Connected World Technology Report indicated in December, Gen Y is constantly checking social media, email and text updates, whether it's in bed (3 of 4 surveyed globally), at the dinner table (almost half), in the bathroom (1 of 3), or driving (1 of 5). That lifestyle is entering work environments in greater numbers, spotlighting the future of work and how companies must consider competing for the next wave of talent. Unfortunately, what the security studies show is the next-generation workforce's lifestyles are also introducing security challenges that companies have never had to address on this scale.
- Spam volume dropped 18 percent from 2011 to 2012, with spammers working "banker's hours" for a 25 percent drop in spam over the weekend.
- In 2012, the majority of spam was sent during the workweek – Tuesday was the heaviest spam day of the year.
- India is the top source of spam worldwide, with the U.S. moving from sixth in 2011 to second in 2012. Korea, China and Vietnam round out the top five. (ASR)
- The top spoofed brands involve prescription drugs like Viagra and Cialis and luxury watches like Rolex and Omega.
- Spammers maximize the ROI of their efforts, targeting real-world events with specific and short-lived campaigns.
- Nine of 10 (90 percent) IT professionals surveyed said they have a policy governing the use of certain devices at work, yet only two of five Gen Y respondents said they were aware of such a policy.
- To make matters worse, four out of five Gen Y respondents who were aware of IT's policies said they do not obey those policies.
- IT professionals know that many employees don't follow the rules, but they don't understand how prevalent it is: More than half (52 percent) of IT professionals globally believe their employees obey IT policies, but nearly 3 out of 4 (71 percent) of the Gen Y workforce say that they don't obey policies.
- Two of three (66 percent) Gen Y respondents globally said IT has no right to monitor their online behavior, even if that behavior is conducted using company-issued devices on corporate networks.
- The aversion to employer IT monitoring was greater than the aversion Gen Y respondents had to retail sites monitoring their online behavior. In other words, Gen Y is less averse to complete strangers at retail sites monitoring their activity than their own employers' IT teams – teams that are there to protect them and their companies' information.