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Janine Milne

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Technology: employees need to understand the crime of stealing data


 Businesses must step up efforts to protect their corporate data, as most UK workers believe it’s perfectly acceptable to transfer confidential intellectual property to a new employer when they leave. 

More than half of the UK employees in a survey by IT security firm Symantec admitted to stealing corporate information when they left an employer and 40% planned to use it in their new role. 
But there was nothing underhand or malicious in their actions. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believed it was fine to transfer work documents onto their personal devices and take them with them, particularly as many believed intellectual property belonged to the individual who created it and not the employer.
The fact the number of UK employees who consider this acceptable is much higher than the global figure (44%) suggests UK individuals feel more strongly about their rights over the own work than workers in many other countries. It also clearly points to the need for better education of staff, particularly as only 30% of managers surveyed saw data protection as a business priority and a third of employees felt they had more access to data than they required to do their jobs. 
“The majority of employees can easily move documents around between work and personal devices therefore it’s something that many don’t even think about because they don’t understand the associated risk. Awareness of who owns corporate IP all comes down to employee education,” said Mike Smart, senior product marketing manager at Symantec.
“Companies are failing to create a culture of security. Many don’t enforce strict data protection policies and as a result are falling victim to unwitting recipients of stolen IP. Whilst employees are in the wrong for taking the data the blame has to be passed to organisations for failing to educate employees and create an environment that promotes employee’s responsibility in protecting IP.” 

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