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70% of workers would take corporate data when leaving a company

Corporate data will be taken by the vast majority of employees when they leave a job and not just by a hard core of sacked or disgruntled workers, a data security firm has claimed. It said that 70% of people would take 'something' on leaving.22 Nov 2010

The increasingly common use of personal devices such as phones for business purposes and the ease with which digital data can be copied have led to growing concern among businesses that employees will take information belonging to a company when they leave it.

A survey of 1,000 London workers this month carried out by data security company Imperva found that 70% of workers surveyed had "clear plans to take something with them upon actually leaving", according to a statement.

Its research found that 72% of people admitted to taking corporate data out of a company in the past, with the most common types of data being HR records, customer records and marketing material.

Of the workers surveyed, 17% planned to take customer records and 27% planned to take other forms of intellectual property.

"More than half of the respondents claimed to have personal ownership of the data – 59% in the case that they were about to change jobs, and 53% if they knew they were about to be dismissed," said the Imperva statement. "Others considered it helpful in their next role (35% when moving a workplace, 17% - under the knowledge of being terminated)."

"The vast majority (85%) carry corporate data in their home computers or mobile devices. This data mostly consists of customer records (75%) and Intellectual Property (27%)," it said.

The survey found that more than half of workers had accessed information that they were not entitled to access. It found that 73% of them said that access controls were "very easy" to bypass.

"This survey refutes the conventional wisdom that insiders are corporate spies or revenge-seeking employees,” said Imperva chief technology officer Amichai Shulman. “It seems most employees have no deliberate intention to cause the company any damage."

"This survey indicates that most individuals leaving their jobs suddenly believe that they had rightful ownership to that data just by virtue of their corporate tenure," he said.