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Former staff swipe confidential company data

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More than half - 59 per cent - of US workers made redundant or who left their job last year admitted swiping confidential corporate data, such as customer list, before they left, a new study claims.

A web-based survey of 1,000 workers who lost or walked out of their jobs in 2008 by the Ponemon Institute and Symantec found the most commonly purloined records taken included email lists, employee records, and customer information (such as contact lists).

Of those who admitted to taking company data, three in five (61 per cent) admitted they harboured a grudge of one sort or another against their former employer.

Half of those who swiped data (53 per cent) burnt the information onto a CD or DVD, 42 per cent used a USB drive and 38 per cent emailed information to a personal email account. Some obviously used more than one technique which Symantec points out could be thwarted with adequate data leakage prevention controls, such as those supplied by Symantec, it doubtless wants us to consider.

One in four (24 per cent) had access to their employer's computer systems after they upped sticks and changed jobs.

"The survey's findings should sound the alarm across all industries: your sensitive data is walking out the door with your employees," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "Even if layoffs are not imminent, companies need to be more aware of who has access to sensitive business information. Our research suggests that a great deal of data loss is preventable through the use of clear policies, better communication with employees, and adequate controls on data access." ®

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