72% of UK employees have admitted to stealing data from their employer, according to a survey by Imperva, the security business. The survey showed that employees tend to steal the data by USB stick, personal laptops or other portable storage devices (including mobile phones) in well over half of cases. 26% of those polled had stolen customer data, 25% HR records, 25% marketing data, and 10% had taken redundancy lists. More than two thirds believed that their employer’s competitors had received important information by this route.
70% of those polled said they would want to take information with them if they were about to lose their job, but the most astonishing statistic was that 59% believed that the information was rightly theirs to take.
Simon Weinberg, a solicitor at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, comments: ‘A cultural shift is needed amongst employers and employees. Employers should make sure that they have a strict policy in place, both to ensure that employees know that intellectual property is owned by the employer, and to ensure that employees return or remove all such information from any USB sticks, personal laptops or phones before they leave employment. And employees should understand the importance of key corporate assets and the consequences of misuse.
‘This survey should also be a call for employers to make sure that any such ‘sensitive’ information is actually protected within the business, such as by restricted access controls. Whilst employees may believe that they are within their rights to take such information, the effect on an employer of losing control of any such information could be extremely serious.’