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Nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of UK employees admit to having illegally accessed sensitive data such as salary details from their firms employer's IT systems. More than half (54 per cent) of 2,200 adults polled during a YouGov survey said they'd forgo any scruples to do the same, given half a chance, according to a Microsoft sponsored survey that points to a culture of internal snooping and casual identity theft in offices across Britain.

Survey respondents said that HR and payroll information was the most popular target (36 per cent), followed by their manager's personal notes (28 per cent) and their colleagues' data (25 per cent). Given the chance, six per cent said they would pinch a colleague's password.

Blokes expressed a greater willingness than their female counterparts to risk dismissal by stealing confidential data. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of blokes said they'd swiped confidential information compared to 16 per cent of women. Workers in London and Scotland (25 per cent) were the most likely to offend, with the most honest workers living in the Midlands (18 per cent).

A third (33 per cent) of respondents said they'd be prepared to access confidential files from previous employers if they still had access. Microsoft, which sponsored the research, said the YouGov survey illustrated the importance of controlling users accounts on IT systems while ensuring that there is a process in place to disable accounts once workers move onto other jobs. ®

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