Employees biggest threat to data loss, IT managers complain

18 Mar 2009

Nearly half of IT managers (47.8pc) believe that the biggest threat to sensitive data in their organisations are their workers.

According to a data security and encryption survey carried out by independent consulting and technical services company IT Force, hacker activity represents the second-biggest threat to sensitive data in organisations (34.8pc), followed by partners and customers with only a 2.2pc threat rating.

“This perceived risk in relation to employees is even more heightened in the current climate,” said Joe Molloy, managed services director with IT Force.

“In some cases, employees may requisition items such as laptops or memory sticks without permission causing data haemorrhaging, albeit by default. In other cases, malicious damage may be a direct result of job losses, where perhaps a salesperson is let go and they take valuable customer information with them.”

Some 74.5pc of the IT decision-makers surveyed agreed data encryption is an important issue for their organisation, while 25.5pc didn’t think encryption was an issue.

Customer data is considered the most sensitive information within the organisation (40.4pc), followed by financial data (25.5pc).

Locking down laptops, as well as individual files and folders, are the most popular measures employed to mitigate data breaches (55.3pc). Some 46.9pc of those surveyed lock down USB keys, 44.7pc lock down desktops, 34pc lock down wireless ports and other removable media, while 31.9pc lock down CD ROMs.

Around 14.9pc do not lock down individual devices, but use other solutions, while 6.4pc do not know what measures their organisations take to prevent data loss.

The surveyed organisations stated that their most sensitive data is their customer data (40.4pc) with financial (25.5pc) and human resources (8.5pc) data coming second and third in importance. 

Of those interviewed by IT Force for the data security survey, 34pc worked in the public sector, while 66pc worked in private corporations.

By John Kennedy