A new study suggests that cyberattacks may not be the greatest threat to the trade secrets of U.S. companies. Rather, many thefts are an inside job.
According to Symantec, its recent survey found that half of employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months walked out the door with confidential business data. Moreover, 40 percent plan to use the information in their new endeavors.
Perhaps most alarming among all of the survey findings—most employees do not believe that using competitive data taken from a previous employer is wrong. In fact, fifty-six percent of employees do not believe it is a crime to use a competitor’s trade secret information.
Below are a few other key findings:
- Sixty-two percent say it is acceptable to transfer work documents to personal computers, tablets, smartphones or online file sharing applications. The majority never delete the data they’ve moved because they do not see any harm in keeping it.
- Forty-four percent of employees believe a software developer who develops source code for a company has some ownership in his or her work and inventions, and 42 percent do not think it’s a crime to reuse the source code, without permission, in projects for other companies.
- Only 38 percent of employees say their manager views data protection as a business priority, and 51 percent think it is acceptable to take corporate data because their company does not strictly enforce policies.
As this survey highlights, employees’ attitudes surrounding trade secrets and other valuable intellectual property often stand in stark contrast to the policies many companies seek to promote. Therefore, it is not only important to have confidentiality policies and non-disclosure agreements in place, but also to make sure that employees understand what they mean.