One in ten UK employees admits having a porn habit at work

Porn watching only one of several risky behaviours

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Porn watching at work is the scandal everyone forgot when the Internet turned even darker five years ago but it’s still an issue in many businesses a new survey for security firm Blue Coat has suggested.

According to the firm’s figures after questioning 1,580 people around the world, nine percent of UK workers admit looking at porn while using work computers, only one of a catalogue of risky behaviours that can lead to malware infection, waste time and consume resources.

UK porn watching was higher than the six percent global average although work-cultural factors could also be an issue. In France, the equivalent figure was five percent, in Germany two percent, Mexico 10 percent and China a surprising 19 percent, the latter probably reflecting a lack of network controls.

The rest of the survey was a predictable mix of findings, including that 26 percent admitting using applications without permission from the IT department, while one in five UK users had opened attachments from strangers despite knowing this was sometimes a bad idea.

Meanwhile, forty percent said they used social media while at work, which Blue Coat isn’t keen on even if some organisations allow such behaviour.

“The dichotomy between the awareness and actions of the employees found in this research should trouble businesses all over the world. While IT professionals seek to prevent cyber-attacks occurring, their colleagues’ behaviour is jeopardising employers’ cyber security and ultimately their jobs,” claimed Blue Coat EMEA director of products.

“The consumerisation of IT and social media carry mixed blessings to enterprises. It is no longer feasible to prevent employees from using them, so businesses need to find ways to support these technology choices while simultaneously mitigating the security risks.”

On the scale of risk, watching porn at work in the UK is now probably riskier for the possibility of a legal case by another employee than the chance of catching malware – cybercriminals have long since worked out that there are better ways to get malware behind firewalls than using porn as the lure.  

It is also, anecdotally, far less likely to attract the interest of female workers who might make up half or more of the workforce in some organisations.

The bigger issue is that some employees continue to do risky things despite understanding the danger to their organisations, an attitudinal issue that isn’t easily solved with technology.