Departing employees target data rather than stationery

data theft

The modern corporate employee is more likely to steal sensitive data than stationery when departing the company, a new survey has revealed.

An online survey of more than 3,500 full and part-time employees in the UK and US by corporate software firm SailPoint has shown that company-owned data is now the favourite target for employees to take when leaving a company, rather than stationery as in years gone by.

Around half of all employees surveyed 52 per cent in the UK and 49 per cent in the US said they would take some form of company property with them when leaving a position.

However, the leaning towards a more digital form of parting shot towards a former company seems more a US trend than one on these shores. Some 29 per cent of US employees seeking revenge said they would take electronic files, compared to 23 per cent in the UK.

By contrast, just 13 per cent of US employees would seek to pilfer office supplies significantly lower than the 22 per cent of disgruntled Brits who would look to raid the stationery cupboard on their last day.

And it seems that vengeance is very much a motivating factor in most cases. Despite the economic downturn, nearly half of those asked in both countries said they felt a co-worker's tendency to steal was uneffected by the recession.

"Companies should be gravely concerned with these survey responses," SailPoint co-founder and vice president of marketing Jackie Gilbert said of the survey's findings. "I believe the survey illustrates that many employees may not believe that taking company data is equivalent to stealing. We see this in the fact that there are more workers who are comfortable taking various forms of company data, such as customer contact information, than workers who would take a stapler.

"[Given how] frequently employees move to competitive companies, these attitudes are major red flags for employers."

As for what workers would do if granted access to a confidential file, it seems UK employees are less trustworthy than their American counterparts. Some 57 per cent of UK respondents said they would look at the file, against just 45 per cent of US workers.