July 23, 2012

Study Shows Customer Data is Primary Target of Exiting Employees

safe lockInformation management company Iron Mountain reports that one-third of employees have taken sensitive information from their employer on multiple occasions, especially when changing jobs. Just over half of the information taken was found to be confidential customer data. Most employees taking the data reported no reluctance and felt they were doing nothing wrong, despite policies forbidding the practice.

In addition to customer databases, employees also take presentations (46 percent), company proposals (21 percent), strategic plans (18 percent), and product and services roadmaps (18 percent); all information crucial to each organization’s competitive advantage and reputation. As opposed to those employees being laid off who typically take information out of malice, employees who resigned were generally found to steal data out of a sense of ownership or feel that it could prove useful in a future job.

Of polled employees who had resigned, two-thirds said that they had taken or would take information they had been involved in creating and 72 percent said the information would be useful for them in the future. However, when employees lose their jobs involuntarily, nearly one-third would intentionally take confidential information for future use or to share with other employers.

“It is extremely worrying to see that employees are leaving jobs with highly sensitive information,” said Patrick Keddy, Senior Vice President at Iron Mountain. “This study provides a fascinating insight into what people feel they have ownership of and why. The findings highlight the need for information management policies to be developed closely with Human Resources as part of a Corporate Information Responsibility program.”

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.