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Survey: Poor Economy Leads To Rise In Sneaky IT Behavior

More than one-third of IT professionals have used their admin rights to view human resources records, customer databases, M&A plans, layoff lists, and marketing information

IT snooping is on the rise, with more IT professionals admitting they're tempted to abuse their access privileges, according to a newly released report.

The unstable economy and job market seem to be exacerbating IT pros' bad behavior: Six times more IT pros this year than last said they would take financial reports or merger and acquisition (M&A) plans if they were to lose their jobs, while more than one-third (35 percent) admitted to having abused their admin rights to view confidential data in their organizations, such as human resources records, customer databases, M&A plans, layoff lists, and marketing information.

Cyber-Ark's 2009 Trust, Security & Passwords Survey found that 74 percent of respondents stated they could circumvent controls currently in place to prevent access to internal information. One in five companies has been victimized by insider sabotage or IT security fraud, and 36 percent of those think their competitors may have been given their intellectual property or sensitive data. And 74 percent of the roughly 400 senior IT professionals from U.S. and U.K. enterprises who participated in the study said they are able to circumvent any security in place that protects access to internal data.

"This survey shows that while most employees claim that access to privileged accounts is currently monitored, and an overwhelming majority support additional monitoring practices, employee snooping on sensitive information continues unabated," says Udi Mokady, CEO of Cyber-Ark, which sells identity management tools. "Businesses must wake up and realize that trust is not a security policy; they have an organizational responsibility to lock down sensitive data and systems, while monitoring all activity -- even when legitimate access is granted."

If fired, more IT workers said they would take company data with them than those surveyed last year. This year's respondents would take customer database information (47 percent, up from 35 percent last year); email server admin accounts (47 percent, up from 13 percent); M&A plans (47 percent, up from 7 percent); R&D plans (46 percent, up from 13 percent); CEO's password (46 percent, up from 11 percent); financial reports (46 percent, up from 11 percent); and privileged passwords lists (42 percent, up from 31 percent).

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" 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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