Work-at-home fatigue and cyber safety. How low-energy leads to high-risk

In a recent Ray Morgan survey, 39% of Australians working from home reported that they ‘find it difficult.’ This coincides with a Society of Human Resources Management study that found 35% of remote workers feeling regularly tired or working with low energy, and a further 32% of that pool feeling this way at least sometimes.

And a similar report from Digital Ocean suggests that roles with less of a social aspect than others can be even more taxing, with an overwhelming 82% of remote developers reporting feelings of fatigue while working remotely.

Low-energy and tired faces tend to raise concerns in the office, yet the overwhelming majority of our workforce is currently operating at a strain and without an immediate support system in proximity.

This is concerning both for reasons of mental health and also for our cyber safety, both of which are increasingly threatened during the pandemic.

One of the most common things I hear victims say following a scam is “I just wasn’t paying attention.” If you perform a Google search of the terms “scam” and “I just wasn’t paying attention”, you’ll see just how frequently scam victims are left empty-handed and quoting these famous last words. Actress Jenifer Lewis predictably coined this term right after she was allegedly embezzled out of $50,000, a scam that later became the basis of a plotline for her character in Black-ish.

If there’s one thing I struggle to do when I’m feeling tired or fatigued, it’s paying attention to the small details.
The sending address on an otherwise unsuspecting email, the URL behind an embedded link or the grammar and spelling of my colleagues; these are all things that, especially when I’m under the weather, can easily slip by me if I don’t check myself and make sure to pay attention.

Considering that a large portion of the Australian workforce, and particularly the Victorian workforce, is now working from home, we all need to remain extra vigilant in our cybersafety.

“I just wasn’t paying attention” is a valid and honest response when we’ve fallen victim to a cybercriminal, and given the tiring circumstances of 2020 we’re now hearing it more frequently than ever. Since the pandemic began, Australians have seen a huge increase to an already cascading spike in cybercrime. The months of April/May saw a total of $32 million dollars in financial damages from scams, a 33% increase from the previous year. In July, the number of reported scams was the highest it’s been all year, coinciding directly with our re-entry into Victorian lockdown.

And it isn’t enough to be wary of the infamous COVID-19 themed scams alone. While there are plenty of successful COVID-19 scams circulating to date, there are endless scams that simply focus on going unnoticed via unrelated tactics. The first round of Australian lockdown saw $300,000 lost to “puppy scams” alone. Yes, these are scams simply predicated on the false promise of purchasing a puppy. And it’s quite possible that their success is simply due to the fact that we’re preoccupied with larger thoughts, we’re tired, and we’re struggling to keep our attention on cybersafety.

As we continue in adapting to the pandemic and working through these trying times, here are a few tips to remaining vigilant and aware of cyber-crime:

  • Slow it down: don’t be afraid to slow down and double-check the work that you’re doing. If you’re actioning an unfamiliar email or visiting a website, take a breath and check through for the red-flags expected with most scams.
  • Reach out to your colleagues: while we’re not working in the same space, we can still reach out to get a second opinion on suspicious activity. If you’re even slightly unsure as to the source or purpose of an email or contact you’ve received, take the time to reach out to your colleagues for a second opinion.
  • Look out for red flags: Even when we’re tired, we can always double-check the sending address of an email, the real URL of a website link, or the source of an unexpected message. The more that you look out for common red flags, the less energy it takes to spot them in the future.

For more information on work-from-home cyber safety, visitportal.cyberaware.com/remote

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