IT Workers Edgy About Workplace Security

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2002-02-01 Print this article Print

Even though IT workers don't think employers do enough to ensure their personal safety or workplace security, they spurn any security measures that might cramp their personal lives, such as frequently changing computer passwords, according to a recent sur

Even though IT workers dont think employers do enough to ensure their personal safety or workplace security, they spurn any security measures that might cramp their personal lives, such as frequently changing computer passwords. Thats according to a recent survey of 888 U.S. technology professionals released late last month from IT jobs site, based in Eden Prairie, Minn. The vast majority of survey respondents reported that, compared with two years ago, company security levels were worse or about the same in all areas.
Of particular concern was security involving access to employee desks and personal space, which 53 percent of respondents felt more vulnerable about now than two years ago. Parking lot safety was the second-highest concern, with 48 percent of respondents feeling more vulnerable and 50 percent feeling about the same.
Forty-six percent feared that access to personnel files has grown easier, and the same number think that its now easier for malfeasants to get at their logged-in workstations. Also compared with two years ago, personal safety while working late is less assured for 44 percent of respondents. No more than 3 percent of respondents felt less vulnerable about any of these areas now than they did two years ago. The survey found that New England businesses offer more security for remote-access users and telecommuters than do Southern businesses. New England companies are most likely to completely prohibit access to some servers. Central and Southern businesses are most likely to deal with remote-security issues by prohibiting all outside access to networks. When asked how employers prevent unauthorized access to offices, 23 percent of respondents said that their employers did nothing other than lock doors at night. Only 20 percent reported that theres a 24-hour alarm system activated. Thirty-seven percent of employers were reported as having security guards after hours, and 32 percent use security guards both during and after business hours. In spite of their qualms about being vulnerable, respondents arent happy about being asked to comply with stringent security measures. Fifty-eight percent said theyd refuse, quit or sue employers if their phone conversations were monitored. Forty-five percent would do the same if their employers mandated psychological testing, while 36 percent would resist regular background checks, and 42 percent would resist e-mail monitoring. Older and more experienced ITers are more likely to resist tough security measures, while the self-employed are more likely to go along with them. Employees at startups dont have a tendency to cotton to strong security, particularly in large metropolitan areas. Women are more likely to accept security measures than men. A surprisingly high 20 percent of tech workers never change their passwords, and almost a quarter of security personnel never change passwords at all. Not surprisingly, almost half of those whose work involves security classifications change their passwords at least once a month.#
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel