11/24/2009
11:40 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary

Employees Stealing Data At Frightening Rate

Two new studies indicate that workers are not only able to steal confidential data from employers, they're ready and willing to do so -- at rates that are troubling, if not downright frightening.



Two new studies indicate that workers are not only able to steal confidential data from employers, they're ready and willing to do so -- at rates that are troubling, if not downright frightening.40% of employees admit to having taken sensitive company data when moving to to new positions, according to a new Cyber-Ark survey of 600 workers (300 in the U.S., 300 in London).

The security firm found that 85% of its respondents know that data theft is illegal.

But the survey also found that employees -- in percentages ranging from a quarter to more than half would take data if they were fired (26%), if there were rumors of layoffs (24%), or "just in case" their jobs might be in jeopardy in the future (52%).

The top vector for data theft was reported to be removable media such as thumb drives and CDs.

Financial services security company Actimize found that the industry it focuses upon is well aware of the problem, and perhaps even more susceptible to it.

Surveying 70 financial firms worldwide, Actimize found that

82% see employee financial fraud as a growing problem, with 78% blaming the slow economy for the growth.

67% of the respondents felt that less than half of employee fraud cases are actually caught.

Most chillingly, at least to anyone who does business with financial firms, was the finding that:

75% of respondents were aware of increasing employee sophistication at committing fraud, yet only 30% have the latest generation of fraud-prevention tools in place.

Prime culprit for the lack of up-to-date tools: Budget.

The Actimize Biennial Report: Measuring the Impact of Employee Fraud within Financial Services can be downloaded here (registration required). These surveys are of enterprise-level businesses, for the most part, and therein lies a bit of advantage for small and midsized businesses.

While it's naive or foolish to assume that small company employees are de facto more honest than those at large corporations or financial firms, it's also likely that a smaller company will have a better sense of its employees and their honesty.

Likely, but far from a sure-thing, of course.

The point is that you and your IT and line-management staff have the potential for a closer relationship with employees than is possible at huge firms. That proximity can be a big plus in heading off employee data theft before it happens.

But only if you make it so.

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