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More IT Pros Snooping Around Sensitive, Confidential Company Info

One-third of companies say their intellectual property has been stolen
More than 40 percent of IT professionals in the U.S. and U.K. admit to using administrative passwords to snoop around sensitive or confidential company information, according to a new report.

The 2010 "Trust, Security and Passwords" report from Cyber-Ark showed that the number of nosy IT pros jumped nearly 10 percent from last year. Among the more than 400 IT pros surveyed in the U.S. and U.K., 38 percent of IT pros in the U.S. say they peek first at the customer database, versus 16 percent of U.K. IT staffers. Human resources records are more attractive to U.K. IT staffers, with 30 percent of them going there to snoop first, while 29 percent of U.S. IT pros say the same.

Cyber-Ark's report also found, however, that firms are doing a better job at preventing snooping. While 77 percent of respondents in 2009 were able to bypass any access controls, that number went down to 61 percent this year. Nearly 90 percent of IT pros say their use of privileged accounts should be monitored, but only 70 percent of the organizations do so.

Meanwhile, 35 percent say their company's sensitive information had been stolen and given to a competitor. Around 37 percent blame this on ex-employees, followed by human error (28 percent), external hacks (10 percent), and loss of a mobile device (10 percent). Insider threat attacks rose to 27 percent this year from 20 percent last year, according to the report.

Customer database information was the most commonly leaked information given to competitors, in 26 percent of the cases, followed by R&D plans, in 13 percent of the cases.

"While we understand that human nature and the desire to snoop may never be something we can totally control, we should take heart that fewer are finding it easy to do so, demonstrating that there are increasingly effective controls available to better manage and monitor privileged access rights within organizations," said Adam Bosnian, executive vice president of the Americas and corporate development for Cyber-Ark, which sells privileged user management tools, in a statement.

A copy of the full report is available for download here.

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