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Senior Managers As The Insider Threat

New survey exposes poor practices and gaffes by managers who expose company data

Don't just blame a low-level end user for the next data breach: New data shows that senior managers are the biggest offenders of putting their companies at risk of a data breach.

Nearly 90 percent send work to their personal email or cloud accounts frequently or occasionally so they can work remotely, according to a new survey by breach investigation and risk services firm Stroz Friedberg. And 58 percent admit to inadvertently sending the wrong recipient sensitive company information, compared with 25 percent of all employees saying they have done so.

More than half of senior managers and 37 percent of midlevel managers say they have taken work-related emails, files, or other resources with them when they have left an employer for another job. Low-level employees do this less often -- 20 percent of the time, the survey of some 764 information workers in the U.S. found.

"Our inaugural information security survey demonstrates that companies need to address high-risk security behaviors within the workplace at all levels with a proactive risk mitigation plan," says Michael Patsalos-Fox, CEO of Stroz Friedberg.

Senior management isn't very confident in its ability to respond to threats, either. Some 52 percent of senior managers gave corporate America a "C" grade or lower there, while 45 percent of them say they and the C-suite are responsible for protecting their organizations. Meanwhile, some 54 percent of nonmanagement-level respondents say IT pros are in charge of ensuring the proper protections from attack are in place.

Some 73 percent say they are worried attackers could steal their personal information via the company network, and more than 60 percent gave U.S. businesses a "C" or lower on protecting their information.

"The C-suite is responsible for making the right security investment decisions, but beyond that, leadership needs to create a culture in which all employees recognize their own responsibility for keeping information secure," says Eric Friedberg, executive chairman of Stroz Friedberg.

User training appears to be a problem, the survey found: Thirty-five percent of the respondents say they get regular training on mobile device security, 37 percent on social media user, and 42 percent on information-sharing best practices.

The full report is available here (PDF).

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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