Former Employees Admit Being Data Thieves

February 24, 2009 ( - Findings of a joint survey by Symantec Corp. and the Ponemon Institute revealed 59% of employees who lost or left a job in 2008 admit to stealing confidential company information.

According to a press release, the most commonly identified kinds of records taken included e-mail lists, employee records, customer information including contact lists, and non-financial information. Although respondents were spread across many different industries, the highest percentage of survey responses came from the financial services industry, the announcement said.

Of respondents who admitted to taking company data, 61% also reported having an unfavorable view of their former employer. Seventy-nine percent of respondents took data without an employer’s permission.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they downloaded information onto a CD or DVD, 42% onto a USB drive, and 38% sent attachments to a personal e-mail account. Eighty-two percent said their employers did not perform an audit or review of paper or electronic documents before the respondent left his/her job.

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) had access to their employer’s computer system or network after their departure from the company.

The Ponemon Institute conducted the Web-based survey in January 2009, polling nearly 1,000 adult participants located in the United States who left an employer within the past 12 months.