Fitness devices upgraded to strengthen employees’ data protection

UK scientists say developments in fitness tracking technology could be used to lower cyber-attack numbers.

A team comprising researchers from the University of Bath, University of London, and Goldsmiths University has been looking into producing a small USB device that could use colour or light codes to indicate what the computer is doing, thus prompting the computer user to be more conscious of cyber security.

The researchers say that different colours could communicate different user actions, such as changing a password or updating anti-virus technology.

The team area also trying to create ways to improve daily cyber-security behaviours, such as reminding workers to lock their computer screens when they are not at their desks.

Proposed device upgrades could include a sensor that fits to a worker’s chair which activates when the person stands up, or proximity sensors that can determine whether or not a computer screen needs to be locked.

Research associate at the University of Bath’s School of Management, Dr Emily Collins, said:

“Humans are the weak link in cyber security. We know that people feel overloaded with data breaches reported in the news and overwhelmed about what they should be doing to protect themselves.

“Many of us know we’re not on top of security, but translating that nagging worry into positive action just isn’t happening. It’s leaving us all open to serious security threats.

“Work-based training on cyber security is generally very conventional, often just delivered as a one-off when people join an organisation,” she added.

“There’s scope to learn from health psychology to pinpoint what motivates people to take action to protect their cyber security. Our project recognises that people can respond to a gentle, well-timed nudge and is investigating the most effective way of doing that,” she added.

Earlier in May, a scientific demonstration took place of a new computer processor infrastructure that enables computers to take an active role in combatting cyber-crime, a capability that could see the end of security patches.

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