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One in ten employees has stolen important data from their place of work after handing in their notice, a study has revealed. Researchers found before moving on to a new company, millions of workers have raided client databases or gathered contact details.
Others have stolen product information in the hope of using it to give them a head start in their new job.
Workers also admitted getting hold of confidential data or documents to steal business and customers, or even to get revenge on their soon-to-be ex-boss.
It also emerged around one in six workers have crept into their offices early in the morning, in the evening or even at weekends to siphon as much information as they can before moving onto a new job.
A spokesman for IT security specialist LogRhythm, which commissioned the study, said:
”When you are starting a new job, everyone wants to make a good impression and get on the right side of their new boss.
”But it’s worrying to see how many people are prepared to steal data or information from their previous employer to do so.
”Sometimes, trust isn’t enough and all employers should have systems in place to stop ex, or soon-to-be ex, members of staff from getting hold of information they shouldn’t have.
”If this data theft results in a loss of business, it could have a devastating effect on your company.”
The study of 2,000 employees found that a surprising 23% have taken confidential data from their workplace.
And alongside those who did it after handing their notice in, three quarters of those admitted to stealing the information while they were still working for the company.
One in ten even admitted to getting hold of confidential data AFTER they had left a firm because they were still able to use passwords or codes they had access to when they worked there.
And while 53% of those who have stolen data from an employer use the information they take to get a head start in their next job, more than a quarter take it in an attempt to impress their new boss.
But one in five simply want to take the business away from their previous employer, with another 14% using the data to set up their own rival company.
23% did it out of revenge because they felt poorly treated by their boss, while one in twenty even wanted to use it to blackmail their old employer.
Researchers also revealed that it’s not just those who are moving onto a new company, as 21% of workers admitted they have looked at documents they shouldn’t really access while still working at that firm.
Snooping for details of what their colleagues are earning is the most popular data to search for, along with bonus schemes co-workers are on and their contracts.
Almost one in ten workers even admitted to selling on the data they have stolen or giving it to someone else to use.
But more than one in 20 have been caught accessing documents or accounts they shouldn’t have been, with 15% of those ending up being suspended or sacked over it.
Another 40% had a firm talking to by their boss and 22% were given a formal warning.
The study, which also included 1,000 employers, found that 19% worry their employees have or would consider stealing data from them.
And 45% believe their company is vulnerable to having data stolen or website hacked into.
Despite this, 47% don’t have any system in place to stop employees accessing confidential information or taking data, and another 60% never change passwords or access codes to protect confidential details from current or past employees.
Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm, added:
”There is a clear gap between businesses’ internal security procedures and the harsh reality of employee behaviour.
”At a time when data loss is considered inevitable, and with recent government initiatives to increase awareness of cyber threats for businesses, the number of employers who are doing nothing about unauthorised access across their networks – and the even higher number who don’t perceive any risk at all when it comes to employee data theft – is staggering.
”Employers need to ensure they have a clear view of every single activity that occurs across their IT systems – so that they can identify and act on any intrusions of privacy and intellectual property theft.”