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7/24/2018
03:15 PM
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72% of CEOs Steal Corporate IP from Former Employers

Employees often take corporate IP because they feel ownership over their work, a trend security experts say is a problem.

Higher security budgets and advanced new tech won't protect your data from a CEO who decides to bring it outside the enterprise – and it turns out many have a habit of doing just that.

There remains a great disparity between how business leaders claim to approach cybersecurity and how they act, researchers found in Code42's 2018 Data Exposure Report, which surveyed 1,034 security and IT leaders (CSOs, CTOs, CISOs, CIOs) and 600 CEOs and business leaders.

Most (78% of) CEOs and 74% of business leaders say intellectual property (IP) is the most valuable asset in the enterprise; however, 72% of CEOs admit to taking IP from a past employer. Nearly half of business leaders and 71% of CMOs claim to have done the same thing.

"I think we all know when people leave companies they take information with them," says Code42 CISO Jadee Hanson. "The startling stat in here is the amount the C-suite executive level answered and said, 'Yes, I take information when I leave a company.'"

The security side is concerned: 78% of CISOs polled say greatest risk to organizations is people who disregard policies and rules to do their jobs the way they want. But it's tricky to convince employees to change dangerous habits when many don't think they're doing anything wrong.

Three-quarters of CEOs say "it's not just corporate data, it's my work, my ideas." Seventy percent of business leaders agree. Both CEOs and businesses leaders feel ownership because, as they state, they "impart" themselves into their work and it should be considered theirs. Nearly all (93% of) CEOs keep a copy of their work on a personal device or storage account.

"People don't even think of it as stealing information and taking it with them," says Hanson.

The motivation is understandable but their actions are still dangerous. Three-quarters of CEOs know employees copy files onto multiple devices but feel powerless to stop it, and 86% of IT and security leaders think the extent to which files are stored externally poses a serious risk.

You Can Click, But You Can't Hide

Half of business leaders and 63% of CEOs admit they've clicked links when they didn't mean to or thought they shouldn't have. As a result, 34% of CEOS had to change their passwords, one-quarter lost control of their accounts and 25% paid ransomware, researchers report.

Accidents happen and it's certainly common to click malicious links. The problem is, 14% of CEOs and 36% of business leaders don't report these incidents because they thought they could sort it out themselves (36% and 38%), didn’t think it posed a security risk (20% and 24%), feared the repercussions (26% and 23%), or "hoped nothing would happen" (27% and 22%).

Think Before You Download

Nearly 60% of CEOs admit to downloading software without knowing whether it's security-approved, which marks a decline from 75% in 2017 but still signifies a major problem. Of the CEOs who download unapproved software, 77% think it would be considered a security risk.

It's not only leadership who's going behind security's back: 70% of CISOs and 62% of IT and security leaders believe all employees are downloading unapproved software. The reasons are varied; employees claim they use unapproved apps because they use the same tools in their personal life, those apps make things easier, or the company-provided software isn't as good.

"The Apple App Store, the Google Play Store … you can find an app for just about anything and with a couple of clicks, you can have it downloaded on your machine," Hanson says. "It's just so easy to do, people are bypassing company-approved software that does [the same things]."

Business and security execs are gearing up for breaches they believe are inevitable. Sixty-four percent of CISOs and 56% of CEOs think they company will be attacked in the next year. Ransomware is their biggest concern, followed by APTs, phishing, and malicious insiders.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Joe F.
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Joe F.,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/25/2018 | 11:59:04 AM
Is Vision, Strategy IP?
When you consider the fact that CEO's are their organizations' visionaries and chief strategists, some major IP and data always walks out the door everytime one leaves. This isn't data or information theft though, it's experience they own. 
lunny
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lunny,
User Rank: Strategist
7/24/2018 | 8:56:55 PM
Sauce for the Goose?
Are these the same CEOs who would sue a former employee for doing the same thing?
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Unreasonable Security Best Practices vs. Good Risk Management
Jack Freund, Director, Risk Science at RiskLens,  11/13/2019
Breaches Are Inevitable, So Embrace the Chaos
Ariel Zeitlin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, Guardicore,  11/13/2019
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