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New research shows employees think employers should be required by law to provide security training

FutureLearn, the social learning platform, investigates opinions around online security and highlights free online courses that people can take right now

London, 13th April 2017: In a survey of 494 employed learners on the FutureLearn platform, 93% of respondents agreed that employers should be required by law to provide security training to all employees with access to online systems.

The research from FutureLearn, the social learning platform, also highlights the extent to which employees are using online systems for work, if they have received security training from their organisation, if their organisation had certain policies in place, how confident they feel about their ability to keep the company network secure, and finally, what they’d like to learn in order to feel confident about protecting their organisation’s online data and network.

According to the research, 85% of respondents used email and 30% used social media every day for work. Meanwhile, 45% of respondents used cloud platforms for file storage and collaboration while 36% used online platforms or portals for managing customer or staff data at least every week. Despite this heavy reliance on online systems as part of their working lives, 57% of respondents hadn’t received any cyber security training at work within the last year to understand how to prevent unauthorised access to the company network or company data.

In addition, although organisations do provide guidance and policies around security, only 58% of respondents were confident about keeping the company network secure. In terms of guidance and policies, respondents reported that their organisations had these for; internet security (48%), data handling (49%), password management (47%), laptop encryption (30%), smartphone encryption (16%), and portable storage device encryption (34%). Unfortunately, 26% of respondents reported that there was no guidance or policies around any of these areas.

When FutureLearn asked what the respondents would like to learn in order to feel confident that they would be able to protect their organisation’s online data and network, the top five things were:

  • How to tell if a website is safe or not – 53%
  • How to check if a company has had a data breach before – 54%
  • How to recover from security breaches – 59%
  • How to store and handle customer data correctly and safely – 53%
  • Identifying malware types – 57%

Stephen Somerville, Portfolio Development at FutureLearn commented, “The research validates our assumption that online systems are a big part of most employees’ working lives but unfortunately, the research also shows that not all employers are giving their employees guidance and skills around security online. As an organisation committed to providing learners with access to the knowledge and skills they need, this research helps us to understand the current needs of the market and shape how we work with our world leading university and organisational partners to deliver online courses around this subject.”

Stephen continued, “We already have a range of online cyber security courses from our partners The Open University, Newcastle University and Deakin University in Australia, such is the demand for knowledge around this subject. Some organisations currently mandate their employees to complete one of our cyber security courses and achieve a certificate to prove they have passed but with the GDPR coming into effect in May next year, we expect that demand to keep increasing from employers around the globe. It’s no surprise that organisations who take the threat of cyber attacks seriously want to educate employees in order to avoid a data breach and the associated potential fines of 20 million euros or 4% of global annual turnover and to that end, we’re already working with our partners to develop materials specifically around the new General Data Protection Regulation.”

People interested in increasing their knowledge around the subject of cyber security can join one of the following online courses today on the FutureLearn platform for free or choose to upgrade their experience for additional benefits:


Notes to eds:

The research surveyed learners from the FutureLearn platform, 1,037 in total, of which 494 self-selected themselves as employed full-time, employed part-time, or self-employed. The research was conducted in the last week of March 2017.

About FutureLearn:

Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With almost 6 million people from over 231 countries across the globe – a community that is continuously growing – it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as Microsoft, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.

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