Wanted: Invisible Security

Technologists are worried about workplace safety, but won't accept personal infringements.

Technology workers think employers don't do enough to ensure their personal safety (and that of their property) but will strongly resist any security measures that might infringe on their personal life. That resistance, however, was much stronger before Sept. 11, 2001.

That was the conclusion of a recent Techies.com survey that quizzed 888 technology workers about their views on workplace security measures. Survey respondents said vulnerability in all areas—from computer security to building restrictions and even personal safety—is the same or worse than it was two years ago. Most felt employers aren't doing enough to protect their physical workspaces.

Interestingly, employees who admit they had cheated on expense accounts were nearly twice as likely to say they're worried about all aspects of security—particularly personal safety on the job—than those who hadn't cheated (or wouldn't admit to cheating).

Respondents point to security lapses in several personal safety areas. "We don't have enough security," says a tech trainer from the D.C. area. "After hours you need a smart card to get in but during business hours the place is wide open and the guards are pathetic. One employee flashed a picture of her dog instead of her ID, but the guard let her through."

A whopping 55 percent say their companies provide no parking lot security at all, and 23 percent say locks provide the only access restriction to their office buildings. And 53 percent say that once inside, an intruder would find no additional locks or access restrictions to work areas.

"Since 9/11, security is way, way up," says a New England IT manager. "I work in [the U.S. Department of Defense] and I have a lock on my office door. But just about everyone in the nation seems to have a key to it. So, I guess we still have a ways to go."

How would you react if your company enacted the
following security measures?*

 
I'd quit and/or sue
I'd refuse to comply
I'd be unhappy but comply
I'd comply
I'd applaud this measure
Monitored my phone conversations
19%
39%
29%
10%
2%
Required psych tests to prove mental stability
17%
28%
33%
17%
4%
Performed regular background checks on all employees
11%
25%
32%
25%
5%
Monitored e-mail
10%
32%
35%
19%
4%
Required regular blood/urine tests to detect drug use
9%
16%
34%
29%
12%
Monitored Web access
5%
29%
37%
23%
5%
Required passcode/passcard entry to get into employee lounges and rest areas
3%
26%
44%
22%
5%
Required employees to wear electronic ID in office
2%
13%
24%
48%
14%
Installed metal detectors in all entrances
2%
10%
38%
39%
11%
Required all employees to submit thumbprint or retinal scan for building access
1%
10%
31%
44%
13%
Required all employees to submit passcode to enter office
1%
9%
35%
46%
9%
Required all employees tosubmit passcode to use the telephone
1%
17%
45%
31%
6%
*Some respondents declined to answer some questions; totals will not equal 100 percent.

Compared with two years ago, how would you rate your company's security effectiveness in the following areas?
 
Most Vulnerable
About the Same
Less Vulnerable
Access to employee desks & personal spaces
53%
46%
1%
Parking safety
48%
50%
2%
Access to personnel files
46%
51%
3%
Access to logged-in workstations
46%
52%
2%
Personal safety when working late
44%
55%
1%
Personal safety during working hours
42%
55%
3%
Access to the office building
38%
59%
3%
Access to workstations that aren't logged in
36%
59%
5%

How often do you change your workstation password?
Daily/with each log-in
0.3%
Weekly
5%
Monthly
27%
Every six weeks or so
14%
Every three months or so
30%
Never
20%
Not sure/don't know
5%