Changing Workplaces: Implications for Cybersecurity
A research team at the Global Cybersecurity Capacity Centre (GCSCC), in collaboration with an innovative tech-enabled survey firm, GrapeData, is conducting an exploratory study on cybersecurity across workplaces.
This collaboration follows previous research on how cybersecurity has enabled working from home during the pandemic. This preliminary work was based on in-depth interviews with IT and security experts in organisations.
The present study is anchored in survey research and builds on the natural experiment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine differences in cybersecurity issues across different workplaces, including shifts to and from working at home, the office, hybrid offices, and decentralised work centres over time.
Joint with GrapeData, we launched a global online survey in June 2022, asking respondents about their workplaces and cybersecurity issues prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the pandemic, and currently. GrapeData uses a combination of proprietary AI and hyper-personalised targeting to recruit and validate respondents world-wide. The survey was fielded from mid-June to early September 2022, yielding responses to the survey from 7,330 internet users across 133 countries.
Rather than a random sample, the design of this exploratory survey enables us to ensure that we reach key types of respondents, such as those currently employed, to identify possible patterns and trends in working practices. Some of the initial descriptive results show:
- the significant shift towards work from home and hybrid workplaces and away from office and decentralized workplaces, even after the height of the pandemic;
- more security problems since before the pandemic, such as in being a victim of a scam or fraud online; and
- that most employers have been flexible about workplace choices and have implemented the major cybersecurity measures recommended for security.
We are developing a report on this project and a set of more analytical studies exploring the factors shaping different patterns of working from various locations and their impact on cybersecurity problems. These include the kinds of work people are doing, differences across age and generations, and more. Future blogs will address:
- How have workplaces shifted during and since the pandemic?
- Have new cybersecurity issues arisen in ways associated with shifts in the workplace?
- What were the most prominent cybersecurity issues prior to the pandemic, during the pandemic, and since the pandemic as begun to subside?
- Who are those experiencing the most cybersecurity issues?
- Has cybersecurity, as well as the internet, enabled major shifts in workplaces?
We will be posting more detailed information on the results of the analyses exploring these questions and exploring the potential for follow-on research to determine whether the trends uncovered will continue, move back to the old normal, or remain in a more hybrid mode with more working from home. Is the proverbial genie out of the bottle? What difference will it make?
An early set of descriptive results is available at: https://www.slideshare.net/WHDutton/changing-workplaces-and-cybersecuritypptx
Another post related to this project is available at: https://www.grape-data.com/blog/helping-oxfords-global-cybersecurity-capacity-centre-gcscc-conduct-a-survey-on-cybersecurity-across-workplaces
 Bispham, M., Creese, S., Dutton, W. H., Esteve-Gonzalez, P., and Goldsmith, M. (2021), ‘Cybersecurity in Working from Home: An Exploratory Study’, Paper prepared for presentation at the Policy Research Conference on Communications, Information, and the Internet (TPRC49), to be held online 22-24 September 2021. Available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3897380