When people change jobs, highly sensitive information is particularly vulnerable. The study showed that many employees have no qualms about taking highly confidential or sensitive documents with them when they leave - and most believe they're doing nothing wrong.
The survey discovered that half (51 per cent) of European office workers who take information from their current employer when they switch jobs - 44 per cent of those in the UK - are helping themselves to confidential customer databases, despite data protection laws and records management policies forbidding them to do so.
Along with databases, employees who take information are walking out the door armed with presentations [46 per cent], company proposals [21 per cent], strategic plans [18 per cent] and product/service roadmaps [18 per cent] - all of which represent highly sensitive and valuable information, critical to a company's competitive advantage, brand reputation and customer trust.
The study found that employees who resign don't generally take information out of malice; they do so because they feel a sense of ownership or believe it will be useful in their next role. Two thirds said they had taken or would take information they had been involved in creating, and 72 per cent said they believed the information would be helpful in their new job.
The picture changes, however, when employees lose their job. The study revealed that as many as one in three office workers (31 per cent) would deliberately remove and share confidential information if they were fired.
"As businesses across Europe rush to tighten up their data protection policies in advance of new EU legislation, it is extremely worrying to see that employees are leaving jobs with highly sensitive information," said Patrick Keddy, Senior Vice President at Iron Mountain.
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