Data theft by employees ‘commonplace’

Pro

2 October 2006

UK workers have few qualms about stealing customer data, according to a recent report.

Many UK businesses are the victims of high levels of data theft by staff, including confidential documents, whole customer databases, business contacts and sales leads, says a report from IT security firm Prefix. 

The majority of the 1,000 respondents admitted to stealing, but many do not perceive their actions as ‘wrong’.

 

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“Clearly, many employees do not see company theft as stealing and do not apply any ‘moral brakes’ to such activities,” said Graeme Pitts-Drake, chief executive at Prefix.

“Naïve employers who continue to trust their staff blindly without relying on robust security measures are asking for trouble.”

Headline findings from the Prefix Security Report include: 37% of men believe it is acceptable to take database information and sales leads; 49% of 16-24 year-olds do not think that workplace theft is ‘stealing’; 73% of graduate trainees admit to office theft and 56% believe that companies expect things ‘to go walk-about’.

Companies are especially vulnerable to internal data theft, according to the report, because 78% of the workforce owns devices capable of downloading and storing data, such as USB memory sticks or media players.

Small firms in particular were shown to be at most risk of ‘disappearing data’.

With the UK work environment so closely mirroring that of our own, Irish organisations would do well to head the survey results.

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