A disturbing study conducted online in the US showed that most employees take employer's confidential information with them outside of the office and even with them to their next employer. The survey showed that employees are in the habit of taking company data home with them and even transferring it onto their personal computers. Data transferred include sensitive or confidential information such as customer details, financial reports, contact lists and employee records.
It goes without saying that the loss of confidential information or 'trade secrets' can be of great cost to company, and in some cases could make or break an organisation. A competitor could be given an unfair advantage with your investment in research or breakthroughs.
Some solutions to the problem on the side of employers include:
- Simply start by thinking about who owns data in your organisation, but remain sensitive to the fact that employees often feel that they are owners or part-owners of information and expertise that they helped to introduce into the organisation.
- Question whether you are ever complicit in allowing employees to take data home with them. Ask yourselves if you push employees to work at home and over weekends and if you secretly want them to take work home with them. Weigh up the risks/benefits of this culture.
- The signing of confidentiality contracts in advance of employment which clearly outlines what the organisation considers to be sensitive information
- Using data protection policies in your organisation, and remember to detail how such policies will be enforced
- Segmenting your data and tools and allowing access to these on a 'need to know' basis
"The study showed that of the 3317 employees that were surveyed and of the 15% who had changes jobs or lost their jobs in the previous 12 months, 50% of those who took the data planned to use it to help them in their new job".
"52% of respondents didn't see the use of the documents as a crime and 29% thought it was wrong only if the data was sold for a profit".