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Customer data top choice for thieving staff

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Departing employees and contractors are more likely to steal customer data and colleagues’ property when leaving their job than any other goods, new research has discovered.

Identity management technology firm SailPoint found that 52% of the 1,065 UK workers it talked to would take a former employee’s property, while 23% of those interviewed would take customer data and contact details.

In addition, 22% of workers would take electronic files with them when they left, while the same number would take stationery. Product information and designs would only be taken by 17% of the workers.

“Many employees may not believe that taking company data is equivalent to stealing,” said SailPoint founder Jackie Gilbert. “[This] highlights what I call a ‘moral grey area’ around ownership of electronic data. We see this in the fact that there are more workers who are comfortable taking various forms of company data, such as customer contact information, than workers who would take a stapler.”

However, despite the mass acknowlegdment of theft, many employees say they would not do it for financial gain.

The survey asked the 1,000 UK workers and 2,500 US workers what they would do if they were given access to a confidential file by mistake. While 57% of the UK workers said they would look at the file, only 1% said that they would attempt to sell the information.

Employers should take caution when challenging the readiness of workers to take a company’s data. While theft can cause commercial and legal damage to organisations under the Data Protection Act, they must balance security with the need of workers to have access to information in order to perform their daily role.

“Companies need to clearly define policies in this area and educate workers about treatment of confidential data,” added Ms Gilbert. “Step two is to strictly limit and control what applications and data are accessible and to put automated systems in place to promptly remove access when an employee transfers roles or leaves the company.”


Written by Andrew Hodges

August 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Compliance, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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