Workers Prepared to Steal Corporate Data

Paul Mah

You must have seen the news report this morning of how employers have slashed a stunning 533,000 jobs in the month of November alone-the highest figure in 34 years. This news brought to mind a survey that was recently conducted on office workers in the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Apparently, out of 600 office workers surveyed, a staggering 71 percent admitted they will steal sensitive data if they are suddenly fired.


In case you think your organization is safe from data theft because it is not currently "streamlining" its headcount, the survey also showed that rumors of looming job cuts are sufficient to push up to half of workers to abuse their IT access privileges in a bid to locate the redundancy list.


Favored targets for theft range from customer contact databases, strategic plans of the company, product information and passwords. Flash memory sticks appear to be the common denominator for this nefarious act, though other methods such as photocopying and CDs are also mentioned.


So how can your organization mitigate against employees making off with company secrets? You can't. This is especially true of SMBs, where a lower headcount in the IT department might mean that there is only one network engineer, or one system administrator. In such a scenario, it might well be impossible to set up a system with strong checks and balances in place.


The only real defense against such dishonesty boils down to the character and values of individual staffers, and the effectiveness of the hiring process.


At the end of the day, though, it is certainly still a good idea to take precautions against staffers who might attempt to erase crucial company data for various perceived grievances. One way to do this is to ensure that backups of all mission-critical and other important data are diligently done. In addition, these copies should ideally be located at off-site locations, and under the jurisdiction of another staff member.


With the current economic situation not showing signs of getting better any time soon, it is more imperative than ever to protect your company against internal sabotage. So make sure you backup, backup, and backup.

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Dec 10, 2008 9:43 AM Loopy Loopy  says:
Very gratefull for the the annoying figures that Paul Mah have published regarding the grate risk of internal sabotage that all large, medium and small bussines are facing now a days because of the international finace crisis. In my point of view these will increase endpoint security risk in mobile data, since movement of employees will increase risk of unauthorized use of important data assets in bussinesses. Just today Andreas M. Antonopoulos , Network World , 12/10/2008 has published at that "Comprehensive endpoint control is still a rarity even in very homogeneous IT shops." Though Ron Barrett wrote in an article called "Endpoint security that is not a pain in your end!" in November this year . that there exists grate software that works easy, affordable and in real time to void this risk. Fortunately I have seen that the solutions Ron Barrett found at, not only work very well, but had recently, a fantastic upgrade. Hope it helps. Reply
Dec 22, 2008 12:01 PM Nina Godbole Nina Godbole  says:
This indeed is a real threat in the arena of social engineering. In Chapter 38 of my book on Information Systems Security published by Wiley India, I have discussed this and similar issue. Reply
Jan 7, 2009 1:45 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says:
Interesting Nina. What is the title of your book? Reply

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