Hidden dangers of PC abuse

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Nearly half of all office staff are visiting websites or opening email attachments that could expose their firms to an internet virus, malware or ransomware attack, according to a recent study.

The findings arose out of an anonymous poll designed to discover what the average British office worker gets up to on their PC, other than work.

Two thousand people were contacted on behalf of the strategic IT consultancy, Aura Technology. Researchers found that 49 per cent were visiting sites or opening email attachments that could be deemed harmful.

As many as 29 per cent were found to have already caused a virus, malware or ransomware attack by accident.

A small number admitted being engaging in illicit behavior such as attempting to access secure servers or view ‘inappropriate’ content. But a staggering nine in 10 admit to regularly wasting work time doing online activities such as shopping, dating or looking for new job.

Tim Walker, Managing Director, said: “It’s concerning that so many workers are opening email attachments or visiting sites that could cause a virus, malware or ransomware.

“Good firewalls and antivirus software should prevent many of these attacks. However, they can’t stop every virus, ‘invisible’ malware attacks or ransomware where employees unwittingly download ‘trojan horse’ files.

“Considering the poll’s results, some employers may want to review their policies on internal communications and how employees are permitted to use their work PCs for personal use.”

Viruses such as malware – software that disrupts, damages, or gains unauthorised access to a system – can be devastating for businesses. Ransomware blocks access to a computer system or files until a sum of money is paid to the perpetrator.

In June last year, a ransomware attack hit 22,000 computers across 170 different sites at global aluminium producer, Norsk Hydro, forcing its entire workforce to use pen and paper to run the business. 

Wht The survey also revealed a few faux pas. Four in ten admitted sending messages their boss wouldn’t approve of’ and 15 per cent even admitted to having accidently sent a message about a colleague to them by mistake.