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Employees Steal Corporate Data And Don’t Believe It’s Wrong: Symantec Study

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By Vijaykumar Meti | February 10, 2013 8:56 PM EST

Majority of employees do not believe it is wrong in taking their employer's confidential data out of the office, while some even provide the confidential data to their next employer, states a recent study.

The study entitled "What's yours is mine: how employees are putting your intellectual property at risk" was released earlier this month by Symantec. Around 3,317 individuals were surveyed online in six countries including the U.S., U.K., France, Brazil, China, and Korea. 

The study found 74 percent of respondents accessed confidential corporate data including contact list of clientele, employee records, financial reports, software tools and other confidential business documents.

Among 15 percent of respondents who left their jobs or lost their jobs in the last 12 months, 50 percent retained company's confidential data with them and around 40 percent plan to use it in their new jobs.

Close to 62 percent of those surveyed say it is acceptable to transfer work documents to personal computers, tablets, smartphones, or online file sharing applications like Dropbox and iCloud. Apparently, majority never delete the data they have moved because they do not see any harm in retaining it.

"Companies cannot focus their defenses solely on external attackers and malicious insiders who plan to sell stolen IP for monetary gain. The everyday employee, who takes confidential corporate data without a second thought because he doesn't understand its wrong, can be just as damaging to an organization," Lawrence Bruhmuller, vice president of engineering and product management, Symantec, said.

"Education alone won't solve the problem of IP theft. Companies need data loss prevention technologies to monitor use of IP and flag employee behavior that puts confidential corporate data at risk. The time to protect your IP is before it walks out the door," he added.

"When it comes to trade secret theft by mobile employees, an ounce of prevention is usually worth ten pounds of cure," Dave Burtt, founder of Mobility Legal P.C., stated.

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