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Security

Category: Security

Wondering Who Started “Cybersecurity Awareness Month”?

Nowadays it seems like every other day holds some sort of significance, especially since the past decade. Although we rarely pay attention to many of these months and occasions, cybersecurity awareness month is one of the most important one observed in October and here’s why.

First, the significance of approved cybersecurity practices in different sectors- for example, the government sector- cannot be overstated. Cyberattacks and the subsequent data loss can have irreversible consequences for national security and the country’s economy. While your business looks to be less vulnerable, the impact of cyber attacks on federal agencies is greater than that on private enterprises.

Not a day goes by without some kind of cybercrime in the headlines. According to the most recent figures, cybercrime events now cost the globe more than $1 trillion, or more than 1% of global GDP. This figure underscores the rising need for verified, trusted, and certified cybersecurity solutions in every industry, particularly sensitive areas like the US Federal government. But, do you ever wonder who realized the importance of cybersecurity and felt the need to create awareness for the same?

Who Launched it?

In October 2004, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established Cybersecurity Awareness Month as a comprehensive effort to assist all Americans stay safer and more comfortable online.

When Cybersecurity Awareness Month originally started, the focus was on tips like upgrading your security software twice a year to match similar efforts surrounding replacing batteries in smoke detectors during daylight savings time.

The Evolving Themes, Significance, and Reach

Since the adoption of the awareness month, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security have worked together to expand its scope and participation. The month’s effort has evolved to encompass a plethora of industry partners that engage their customers, workers, the broader population in awareness, and also college campuses, NGOs among other groups.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano started Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2009 at a Washington, D.C. event to become the highest-ranking state official to take part in the month’s events. In the years afterwards, top government officials from DHS, the White House, and other agencies have frequently attended gatherings around the country.

Beginning in 2011, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security established the notion of weekly themes throughout the month. This concept was inspired by comments from stakeholders who suggested that the many components of cybersecurity be clearly described, making it simpler for other groups to align with certain themes. Education, cybercrime, law enforcement, mobility, vital infrastructure, and small and medium-sized enterprises have been among the topics covered.

Do Your Part- #BeCyberSmart

The NCSA and DHS collaboration on Cybersecurity Awareness Month is one of many successful public-private collaborations that are essential to cybersecurity.

The 2021 theme for the awareness month aims to empower every individual and organization to protect their cyberspace and make it secure and safe for the greater good. The theme- do your part #BeCyberSmart- is not just for the citizens of America or any particular country, but the world at large.

Windows 11 Strict Hardware Policy- Why is Microsoft Adamant on it?

Weeks before the official release of Windows 11, Microsoft today announced minor changes to the minimum system requirements for its new operating system.

Windows 11 promises to upgrade window management, run Android apps, and unify the look of built-in OS apps after years of frustrating chaos. But none of that applies if your computer can’t run the software, and Microsoft has only promised official Windows 11 support for computers that have been released in the last three or four years.

Anyone else can run the operating system if it meets the performance requirements, but you will have to download an ISO file and install the operating system manually instead of obtaining it through Windows Update. This is a break from previous versions of Windows, which had roughly the same system requirements for a decade.

Microsoft’s foundation for strict Windows 11 official support requirements, including secure boot, a TPM 2.0 module, and virtualization support, has always been about security, not just performance. A new contribution from Microsoft today goes into more detail about these requirements and also argues with data from older PC crashes in the Windows Insider Program for System Stability.

 Relatively new PC owners with Intel Core 7th CPUs. In an unsigned Windows Insider blog post, the company announced that it will “make a small number of additions to the list of supported processors … but otherwise specified originally as a minimum system the requirements are maintained “.

Drivers and Support- Chances of Kernel Mode Crashes?

Microsoft says that Insider PCs that did not meet the Windows 11 minimum had “52% more kernel-mode crashes” than PCs that did, and that “99.8% of devices that met Windows 11 requirements system did not suffer failures “.

According to Microsoft, this is primarily due to active driver support. Newer computers tend to use newer DCH drivers, a way of packaging drivers that Microsoft has supported since Windows 10. To be DCH compliant, a driver only needs to be installed with a typical.INF file. OEM-specific driver settings should be separated from the driver itself and from all the applications that come with its driver.

For example, a control panel for an audio controller or a GPU via the Microsoft Store. DCH drivers are common for hardware manufactured in the last four to five years, but they are rare or non-existent for hardware that shipped in the Windows 8 or Windows 7 era.

Computers built-in 2012 or 2014 are certainly running out of outdated drivers that are causing crashes – using Windows 7 as drivers on older computers running Windows 10 can cause general instability and performance issues.

Security Buildup

That’s where the safety necessities come into play. Microsoft is going to great lengths to give an explanation for the blessings of the usage of Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 modules. However the key will without a doubt be the less-mentioned virtualization requirement and an alphabet soup of acronyms.

Windows eleven even makes use of virtualization-primarily based total security, or VBS, to isolate elements of device reminiscence from the relaxation of the device. VBS consists of a non-compulsory characteristic referred to as “reminiscence integrity.”

That’s the greater user-pleasant call for something referred to as Hypervisor-covered code integrity or HVCI. HVCI may be enabled on any Windows 10 PC that doesn’t have motive force incompatibility issues. However, older computer systems will incur a giant overall performance penalty due to the fact their processors don`t aid mode-primarily based totally execution manage or MBEC.

That acronym appears to be at the foundation of Windows 11`s CPU aid list. If it helps MBEC, generally, it’s in. If it doesn’t, it’s out. MBEC aid is best blanketed in brand new processors, beginning with the Kaby Lake and Skylake-X architectures on Intel`s side, and the Zen 2 structure on AMD`s side—this suits the Windows 11 processor, albeit not exactly.

How To Check If Your Company’s Data Is Available On The Dark Web

The leakage of private data is one of the worst nightmares for a company. And it gets further amplified because they might not even realize that their data has been made available on sale on the dark web until it’s too late.

There have been many instances of affected companies learning about the breach of their data months and even years after the incident. And needless to say, it poses a massive problem for the company and the customers whose data is leaked on the dark web.

What Is the Dark Web?

We all access the internet to browse websites, social media or search the web. While it may seem quite vast, the part that we usually access is only a tiny fraction of the web. This part only consists of around 1-4% of the internet – the remaining part forms the dark web.

The dark web consists of sites hidden from public view which cannot be accessed by the usual search engines like Google or Bing. Instead, one can only access the dark web through a unique browser named Tor, which allows them to browse anonymously without revealing their location or IP address.

But all activities on the dark web are not necessarily illegal. In fact, most of it is used for harmless purposes like browsing, communication, or gaming by people who value their privacy a lot. But it is equally famous for several types of illegal activities, including the sale of stolen data

How Can A Dark Web Scan Help?

You may think that you can avoid data theft by ensuring strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, etc., but these may not be effective in all circumstances. For instance, if hackers breach the website or app you are using, they can easily access your company’s sensitive data.

A dark web scan can help alert you in case your data is stolen so that you can take the necessary steps like changing your credentials or informing the concerned people immediately. It works by constantly scanning the stolen data up for sale on the dark web to identify whether your information is present among them. You can easily access several free dark web scanning services online.

While it cannot scan the entire dark web due to the search limitations, it’s the best bet to find out if you or your company have experienced a data leak.

Dark Web Monitoring Can Ensure Data Safety

The best way to ensure data safety is to engage in dark web monitoring regularly. Since you never know when hackers might target your information, it’s best to stay on the safe side by running constant scans on the dark web to identify any signs of stolen data. In addition, you can avail both free and paid dark web monitoring services to secure your information.

Summing Up

While it may seem difficult to ascertain whether your company data has been leaked on the dark web or not, it is not absolutely impossible. With regular dark web scans and monitoring, you can stay aware of any such issues and rectify them quickly.

Tips For Keeping Your SaaS Applications Secure

SaaS, or Software as a Service, allows many organizations to subscribe to the applications they require while taking away the need to host them in-house.

SaaS has become extremely popular due to its ease of use and convenience. As a result, providers often secure the platform, network applications, infrastructure, and so on. However, it is predicted that by 2022, 95% of cloud security failures will be due to the client’s security risks. Thus, SaaS requires a few best practices to ensure that customer data and user access are protected from the organization’s end. Here are some ways you can keep your SaaS applications secure.

1.  Encrypt Cloud Data

Data encryption for your cloud data can protect data while it is in storage, as well as during transit. This includes its transit between cloud applications, as well as between the end-user and the cloud. SaaS vendors might already provide encryption, but organizations can enhance the security by adding a cloud access security broker. The extra protections are crucial, especially when storing or dealing with confidential information like financial data, healthcare records, or personally identifiable information.

2.  Multi-Factor Authentication

Access control is an essential aspect of maintaining security for SaaS applications. This can be strengthened by using multi-factor authentication methods like OTP to registered mobile devices. In addition, it has become increasingly common to access SaaS applications outside of the protected organization network. Thus, multi-factor authentication is an essential step to confirm the identity of the user.

Strong access controls are another part of this step. The accounts used to manage the multi-factor authentication software should also be protected using access control measures. This will help prevent any incidents due to credentials being compromised, thereby protecting your Saas application.

3.  Ensure Provider Security

According to the Cloud Adoption and Risk Report, nearly 70% of organizations trust their cloud provider to secure information. However, only about 8% of these cloud providers meet data security standards. This means that undue trust in the provider might leave your data compromised. In addition, only 10% of providers encrypt data in storage, while a mere 18% offer users multi-factor authentication support. Thus, it is essential to audit the SaaS provider’s data encryption policies, security practices, cybersecurity protection, data segregation, and privacy policies. It is also wise to check the regulatory compliance of these providers to global standards. This will help you secure your data.

4.  Awareness

You can easily avoid a lot of vulnerabilities simply by educating employees and customers about SaaS security practices. This will make implementing two-factor authentication and security practices much easier while creating a cohesive security culture that can spread throughout the organization.

Your provider does not entirely determine SaaS security. Therefore, you have an equally important role in protecting your data, as well as customer information. This can be done by following the methods listed above, keeping an eye out for any compromised accounts, and staying educated about best security practices to follow.

Why An Insurance Company Secretly Paid $40 Million In Ransom

News of cyber attacks and large ransoms are not new. With the spread of technology, such attacks are often followed by panic, increased cybersecurity measures, and exposed vulnerabilities. One such incident took place in late March 2021.

The victim, in this case, was CNA Financials, one of the US’s largest insurance companies. After hackers blocked access to the network and stole data, CNA Financials reportedly paid $40 million to the hackers to regain control. This could be one of the largest ransomware payments to date. Coming just a few weeks after the Colonial pipeline attack, it shows the increasing cost of ransomware attacks.

Digging Deeper into the CNA Financials Ransomware Attack

CNA Financials announced the hack in March. It called the ransomware attack a “sophisticated cybersecurity attack” and confirmed that it had compromised several CNA systems. While the company called for help from outside experts and law enforcement, they ultimately negotiated with the hackers.

The demand placed by the hackers was $60 million reportedly. However, CNA engaged in negotiations, and the hackers settled for $40 million.

The company claimed that record systems, claims, and underwriting systems were not affected by the attack. A spokesperson for the group refused to comment on the ransomware payment. However, the group behind the attack was supposedly “Phoenix.” They used the Phoenix Locker software that is a “Hades” spinoff.

While the spokesperson maintained that systems that hold most of the policyholder data were unaffected, the hefty ransom is certainly causing concern. The FBI warns against paying ransom in case of such attacks. They maintain that such ransom payments will give attackers and cybercrime groups more incentive to carry out further episodes of the same fashion.

Implications of the Ransom Payment

$40 million paid by CNA Financials is one of the largest ransoms for a cyberattack. This is undoubtedly an incentive for hackers. It gives them the confidence required to carry out such attacks.

In general, it has been observed that the average cost of these attacks has risen rapidly over the past years. The number of organizations choosing to pay ransom has increased from 26% in 2020 to 32% in 2021. However, only 8% of these organizations get their data back. While it is easy to warn against paying a ransom, it is hard to practice when data is at risk.

This also implies that companies have to spend more resources securing data and mitigating risks before an attack occurs. This might be the only way to prevent or at least reduce such attacks. In this age where data is the ultimate driving force for most companies, such large ransoms are sure to attract more attackers to try their luck.

The only sure way to stay protected is by staying one step ahead and keeping track of and managing vulnerabilities. The rising attacks and steep increase in ransom demands signify that companies and governments need to implement policies that protect data.

Why are Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Becoming More Common?

Cybersecurity and ethical hacking have come a long way in the past decade. However, the gap between security solutions and hackers is still very transparent. Even with the best security practices and modern analysis tools, we’re seeing many zero-day vulnerabilities being discovered every day. Zero-day vulnerabilities are those that weren’t previously known to the manufacturer or the client.

There are several reasons for which zero-day vulnerabilities are becoming more and more common every day. This article will explore why these vulnerabilities still exist and what we can do to reduce them.

Primary Reasons for Seeing an Increase in the Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

1. Availability of Resources

As cybersecurity is gaining more and more heat in the IT space, the number of resources available in the field is also increasing. The issue with the increasing resources is that most cybersecurity resources are not entirely focused on defense. Ethical hacking is a part of cybersecurity. However, since there is no way to monitor these resources, hackers gain access to these resources and improve their skills.

Even though the abundant availability of resources is a major issue, we cannot take down any of them because they’re not illegal. It just depends on how the learner chooses to implement them.

2. Skill Gap in the Cybersecurity Industry

Currently, there is a significant skill gap in the cybersecurity industry. IBM estimated that there would be more than 6 million unfilled security jobs by the end of 2022. Since most of the Zero Day vulnerabilities are found in modern tools and software, it may not be possible to counter the zero-day vulnerabilities without closing the skill gap.

The dynamic nature of the security field is not helping freshers much in the field. Most companies require the applicants to have some sort of security certification which may not be easy for early professionals.

3. Secure Designs

Secure designs, or rather the lack of them, is another primary reason for the increasing number of zero-day vulnerabilities. New apps and software programs are being released every day all over the world. However, not a lot of these apps are securely designed to prevent any exploits. The lack of a secure design is leading to a lot of undiscovered vulnerabilities in thousands of applications.

What Can We do to Counter Zero-Day Vulnerabilities?

The one thing that we can do to mitigate zero-day vulnerabilities is to follow safe design practices. Wrong implementations are one of the major causes of the discovery of zero-day vulnerabilities. If we manage to cover that gap, we can reduce a lot of zero-day vulnerabilities.

We can do a few more things to prevent zero-day vulnerabilities, like promoting cyber defense instead of offense, starting bug bounty programs, etc.

However, we may continue to see more zero-day vulnerabilities unless the skill gap in the industry is closed.

Why 70% of Business Leaders Feel Their Cyber Risks Are Increasing?

A few years ago, only one in every four companies did business on the internet. Today, 100% of companies rely on the internet for their business operations. Unfortunately, with this increased digital adoption comes the risk of cyberattacks.

Around 70% of business leaders accept that they are now more vulnerable to cyber attacks, as they increase by 10% every year, resulting in a significant revenue loss.

To put things into perspective, cyberattacks and data theft are amongst the top five risks faced by CEOs, according to the World Economic Forum report on global risks.

This post will discuss why organizations are shifting to more robust digital infrastructure and the effects of this adoption.

Why Is Cybersecurity Awareness Increasing Among Business Leaders?

1.     More Sophisticated Cyber Attacks

Cyberattacks are growing at an average rate of over 10% every year.

On top of this, hackers are constantly adapting to new ways to bypass the security systems. For example, cybercriminals are now launching attacks on industrial control systems rather than just focusing on data theft. Further, data is not only being copied or sold by malicious attackers. Instead, data is being destroyed and altered, causing distrust among every stakeholder. As for techniques, hackers heavily launch people-based attacks such as insider attacks, phishing, social engineering attacks, etc.

2.     Media Coverage Resulting In Loss of Trust

Customer trust is at the center of every business.

A cyberattack makes the company a headline. There will be media reports everywhere citing the amount of user data leaked. Honestly, no customer will do business with such a company if they cannot promise data integrity.

On the other hand, if a business succeeds in inducing more trust among their customers as compared to their competitors, the business will enjoy a wider customer base. It is no wonder why higher security standards are becoming a marketing tool.

3.     Increasing Losses

Globally, it is estimated that around $5.2 trillion is at risk due to cybercrimes.

The average cost of a malware attack for an organization is around $2.1 million per annum. On the other hand, malicious insider attacks cost organizations $1.6 million every year.

If we consider each type of cyber attack, the annual cost of a cyber attack for an organization stands at $13 million.

4.     Regulatory Fines

Regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and  California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) hold organizations accountable for not using customer data responsibly. In case of consumer data leaks, companies are heavily fined. GDPR has fines up to $23 million or four percent of annual global revenues. On the other hand, CCPA imposes small fines of up to $7,500.

There is no denying that such economic disincentive inspires more accountability. However, it also increases the financial burden of companies in case of cyberattacks.

All these factors push organizations to invest more in their cybersecurity infrastructure. Companies are investing in technologies like blockchain, cloud services, AI, ML, as well as security intelligence threat sharing applications like SIEM, DLP, NGFW, and IPS to name a few.

These investments save significant costs for companies. For instance, security intelligence and threat sharing save around $2.26 million, whereas AI and automation save around $2.09 million.

A More Secure Digital World

The increasing cybersecurity adoption will slowly create a more secure place for digital interactions.

One of the major benefits of strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure is data integrity. Data is the lifeblood of this rapidly digitizing world. Cyber attacks not only harm business, instead, everyone is at risk. When hospitals are targeted, millions of patients are at risk. Cyber attacks on the country’s defense system compromise national security. When cybercriminals attack large industrial systems, they put a dent in the entire economy. Considering all this, strengthening digital security will play a major role in the nation’s economy, and security.

Improving cybersecurity infrastructure will also promote responsible digital behavior. Let’s be honest, people are the weakest link in cyber attacks. Insider hacks, phishing, and social engineering attacks are amongst the most popular ways to intrude an organization’s security firewall. Companies are thus providing extensive training to their employees against such risks to build a digitally robust workforce. Further, they are also helping customers to adopt more robust security measures.

Conclusion

Cyberattacks are indeed the biggest challenge for digitization. However, organizations are attempting to improve their cybersecurity infrastructure to provide their customers a secure digital environment.

How Using The Same Passwords For Work & Personal Can Be Disastrous

So you’re signing up for a brand new account, and the dreaded ‘Password’ text box pops up. Since you don’t want to risk picking a standard password, or worse, a password that you won’t remember, you do the next best thing and enter your personal account’s password. This may seem like a great idea because you’re choosing a secure password that only you know. However, the reality might be a bit more alarming than you imagined.

Every new online account requires a fresh password that can be quite frustrating to come up with, and it’s clear that many people agree with this. Microsoft estimates that around 73% of people use duplicate passwords for their accounts. If you consider the sheer number of people who go online, this number becomes extremely large, making it a significant problem.

Why is Reusing your Passwords an Issue?

All of our online accounts are connected in one way or another. For example, when we sign up for an account, we usually attach an email address to that account. Our social media apps all require an email address to confirm a person’s identity. Even professional platforms like LinkedIn have a list of all our details right on the profile page. Although this connection is highly convenient for online users, reusing passwords can put your accounts at risk.

If even one of your accounts were to get compromised, this could lead to the other one getting breached, too. All the hacker has to do is look for an account with relatively weak security and work their way up from there. This is especially true if you’re a person who has a ton of different accounts with overused passwords. Cyber breaches happen all the time, and once your personal mail gets broken into, it can be very tricky to get it back. Your information can get stolen in a matter of minutes before you even notice that anything has gone wrong.

One of the most common causes of data breaches is poor passwords, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve seen many companies put measures in place to stop this issue from occurring, but a majority of people still reuse passwords. The bottom line is, when a single password is all that stands between a cyberattack and your account, you need to make sure that the password is as complex as possible.

So What Can You Do To Solve this Problem?

The reason why people tend to keep reusing passwords is that they forget them. No one can properly remember around ten different unique passwords for their accounts. It’s simply not very plausible, unless you have a little assistance with it. Using a password manager can help you save several complex passwords on your devices without having to remember them. This makes it an easy and quick solution.

Another useful tool is two-factor authentication. Many companies use this tool to strengthen their online user accounts, and some places like Google have even set up multi-factor authentication tools. This helps strengthen the security of your account immensely. Doing a regular reset of your account passwords can also be a great way to avoid compromising your data, but this task can be quite challenging to follow through with. In case you’re looking for a quick fix, you could add a few characters to an already existing password to strengthen it.

There are many options out there, so pick the ones that are best for you. Whichever way you choose, just remember that having a solid password will help secure all your accounts and keep your online presence much more protected.

Smishing Attacks Increased by 328% in 2020!

The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone inside their homes, pausing all physical activities for a few months. As a result, all activities shifted to online mode, and cyberspace saw more users than ever. While digital communication and economy made it easier for people to navigate through the lockdowns, it also exposed users to cybersecurity risks.

The pandemic saw an exponential increase in cybercrimes such as phishing, hacking, ransomware, cyberstalking, harassment, etc.

According to Proofpoint’s report, smishing attacks increased by 328% in 2020 alone. These attackers have been exploiting people’s fear associated with COVID-19 to send malicious messages via email, SMS, or web pages.

What is Smishing?

Smishing or SMS phishing means sending fraudulent text messages to coax victims into revealing private information or installing malware. Cybercriminals send these messages to steal credit card details or other sensitive information such as usernames or passwords to private accounts.

Attackers typically disguise themselves as reputable organizations sending these text messages to deceive the victims. Instances of smishing have particularly increased multifold due to internet and smartphones reaching even the world’s remotest corners.

Smishing attackers use social engineering techniques to deceive message recipients into revealing private and financial information. For example, during the holiday season, you could receive a text message from a seemingly well-known retailer asking you to verify your billing information to get your gift package delivered. The information you provide could then be used for identity theft or potential fraud.

SMS phishers could also distribute spyware or malware through these fraudulent text messages. These messages typically create a sense of urgency for the recipient to click on the link attached to the message. This link then leads to unsafe or bogus websites that can install malware on your device.

Some of the common smishing attacks you need to watch out for are:

  • Urgent messages about your financial information, including credit card or bank account details
  • Notifications about winning prizes or lotteries
  • Fraudulent survey links
  • Phony messages pretending to be from trusted brands

Was the Spike in Smishing Circumstantial due to COVID-19?

Yes and no.

COVID-19, much like any other newsworthy event, gave cyber criminals an opportunity to hoodwink people across the globe. The widespread infection and death rate caused by coronavirus instilled fear in people, and they quickly fell prey to fraudulent messages about COVID-19.

Text (SMS) messages are a more direct and trusted method to contact people. According to Symantec, 1 in 20 COVID-19 related messages contained phishing attempts.

Attackers use URL shortening services to hide the domain names and URL destinations from the malicious links they add in SMS. Unsuspecting, vulnerable people in the coronavirus-struck world didn’t think twice before clicking on such links. Symantec also notes a spike in phishing attacks using COVID-19 related SMS messages after it was declared a global emergency by WHO in March 2020.

However, cybercrimes like SMS phishing do not appear or increase only during times of emergency crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak. With technological advancements and people becoming increasingly dependent on their smartphones and other devices, cybercrimes have been on the rise. Whether it’s a period of recession, war-like state, holidays, cybercriminals leave no stone unturned in deceiving digital users.

It seems like cybercriminals are always two steps ahead. Even with cybersecurity updates and robust software to detect and report cybersecurity risks, cybercrimes have not subsided.

Now, with vaccines out in the market, criminals have found new vaccine-themed deception tactics. As always, technology is a double-edged sword. With the life-altering benefits come the security risks. One can only stay smart and alert to avoid these risks from causing damages.

How to Protect Yourself from Smishing?

Smishing attackers target unwitting victims who will be easy targets. You can easily avoid being a victim by being aware. Look for poor grammar or spelling mistakes in these messages. Also, malicious links included in SMS messages are often slightly altered to make them look legitimate. For example, amazon.com could be written as ama.zon.com. Having software like anti-spyware or anti-virus on your device is also a good idea.

Ways To Avoid Backfires From Your Employee Monitoring Program

Every effective team leader, manager, and business owner has a set of practices in place to monitor employees. This could be to monitor performance, workplace behaviour, or even progress. Whatever the reason, employee monitoring can help you identify the best way to utilise time and resources.

A 2018 Gartner report stated that 50% of organisations, among a list of 239, monitor employee emails and social media, while a 2019 Accenture survey brought to light that 62% organisations used new tools in order to collect employee data. This number has undoubtedly gone up in recent times. The key here, however, is to successfully monitor employees without creating any friction.

Why Employee Monitoring can Backfire

There are a number of reasons why employee monitoring can backfire. Some of the most common among them are listed below.

  • A feeling of continuously being monitored could cause increased stress and anxiety among employees. This may lead to them finding “blind spots” that are not monitored, which would be detrimental to the overall productivity.
  • If employees are constantly monitored, you may feel obsessed to pick out the minor details, which would lead to resentment and a feeling of being micromanaged. This would also affect the overall productivity of the workplace.
  • A feeling of lack of privacy, or mistrust might cause employees to look for another organisation, which would significantly affect your retention rate.

While these are all difficult to spot, it could affect the overall nature and environment of your workplace. It could cause both the workplace productivity and employee health to take a hit. That is why it is important to find a healthy boundary, and establish steps to use the monitoring programs without these side effects.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

How Can You Avoid These Backfires With Your Employee Monitoring Program

Here are some ways to utilise your employee monitoring program without having to deal with unsatisfied, stressed, and disgruntled employees.

Be Transparent With Your Employees

The first step to good monitoring is to let employees know that they are being monitored. Also ensure that they know why you are monitoring and be open to feedback. You can even explain your concerns, disclose what data will be monitored and how it will be used. Transparency is the best way to make employees comfortable with the fact that work is being monitored, while avoiding any feelings of mistrust.

Monitoring, not Surveillance

The ability to monitor might be quite addictive, as you get a sense of control. It is important that you do not micromanage, and get rid of unnecessary monitoring. You need to understand that the idea is to improve overall productivity, not pick out flaws. It is unnatural to always expect employees to be on their most productive.

Also ensure that you are able to guide employees as to where they are lagging, what they are doing right, and so on. If possible, hold regular sessions to discuss progress and take their opinions into consideration.

Have Policies in Place

Make sure you have made a copy of your monitoring policies available to employees. Check that it is legal and compliant, and let employees know the details so that they can adapt to it.

Use Dedicated Tools

Use tools and software that you know are secure. You would not put your client’s details at risk, and you should be equally careful about your employees and their privacy. Make sure your tools use all the major metrics required, without disturbing the work of employees.

 

These steps should make sure that your monitoring actions do not backfire in the office!

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