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Prefix Security Report reveals alarming attitudes to data theft
Date Added: Thu September 21 2006
37% of men believe it’s acceptable to take database information and sales leads
78% of workforce owns devices capable of download and storing data
of 16-24 year-olds do not think workplace theft is ‘stealing’
73% of graduate trainees admit to office theft
56% believe companies expect things ‘to go walk-about’

Independent research from Prefix IT, the leader in PC security and management software tools, reveals that UK businesses are the victims of high levels of data theft by staff, including confidential documents, customer databases, business contacts and sales leads. The majority of the workforce admits to stealing but many don’t believe it is ‘wrong’. This danger is compounded by widespread ownership of personal storage devices (78% of the workforce), such as USB memory sticks or iPods, capable of storing company data.

The Prefix Security Report was designed to examine the conduct and attitudes of over 1000 UK workers towards theft of office data and was completed in September 2006. High levels of data theft were revealed. SMEs in particular were shown to be at most risk of ‘disappearing data’.

Key findings include:
60% of workers have removed items from the office in the past
18% of men take business contact details
11% (15% for men) remove confidential documents
10% have stolen a work database (18% of graduate trainees)
13% of workers at large SMEs (501-1000 employees) have taken software
10% of large SME employees have stolen computer equipment
30% of workers (37% of men) believe sales leads/business contacts are rightfully theirs

Prefix warns that loss of such intellectual property can seriously impact a business’ performance, particularly if such information falls into the hands of a competitive organisation and advises employers to build robust security processes to guard against data theft.

When asked if it is acceptable to take sales leads or database information from the workplace 29% agreed that it was (37% of men and 25% of women) with the strongest response overall (36%) coming from those in the 25-34 age group.

Mid-sized SMEs (51-250 employees) have the biggest problem, as 36% of employees ‘have no issue’ with taking leads and database information. Graduate trainees pose the biggest threat; 55% believe there is no moral dilemma involved.

Over a quarter (27%) disagreed that ‘taking things from work was the same as stealing’. This response was strongest amongst 16-24 year olds (49%) and graduate trainees (41%).

More than a third (37%) of respondents believe that ‘most employees would think nothing of taking things from the workplace’. “Clearly, many employees do not see company theft as stealing and do not apply any ‘moral brakes’ to such activities. Naïve employers who continue to trust their staff blindly, without relying on robust security measures are asking for trouble.”

Supporting the theory that office theft is not only widespread but accepted practice, more than half (56%) of respondents agreed that ‘companies expect a certain amount of things to go walkabout’. The belief that office theft is accepted by employers was very strong amongst 25-34 year olds (63%) and those working in the capital (64%).

“Quite apart from safe-guarding their own data assets, companies have a responsibility to maintain confidentiality of employee data. In an age where identity theft is the fastest growing crime, the results of the Prefix Security Report have particular resonance.”

The range of personal devices capable of downloading and storing data is very wide and includes digital cameras, MP3 players (such as iPods), USB memory sticks, smart phones and PDAs. In today’s workforce 78% of employees own at least one of these items, with a significant number owning several such devices.

Additional statistics:

Mid-sized-SMEs (250-500 employees)
14% admit to stealing confidential documents
30% believe that they are entitled to take sales leads/database information

Large SMEs (501-1,000 employees)
66% admit to stealing from the office (61% is national average)
13% have stolen software packages
10% have taken computer equipment
30% believe that they are entitled to take sales leads/database information

London
33% of workers believe that they are entitled to take sales leads/database information
34% don’t think taking things from the office is the same as stealing
64% think their companies expect things to ‘go walk-about’
15% have taken confidential documents home
10% have stolen software packages from the office
10% have taken an item of computer equipment or office furniture

Scotland
58% admit to stealing from the office in the past
10% have taken confidential documents home
35% of workers believe that they are entitled to take sales leads/database information
27% don’t think taking things from the office is the same as stealing
57% think their companies expect things to ‘go walkabout’

Graduate Trainees
18% have stolen work databases, 14% have taken confidential documents
55% of workers believe that they are entitled to take sales leads/database information
41% don’t think taking things from the office is the same as stealing
64% think their companies expect things to ‘go walkabout’

Research methodology:
The research was carried out online in August and September 2006 by Tickbox.net and includes over 1000 responses from a nationally representative sample of working adults. Tickbox.net is a leading market research organisation, carrying out consumer, corporate and niche marketing surveys online amongst a 560,000 + panel. It is an independent research organisation and a member of the BMRA (British Market Research Association), which complies with the codes of the MRS (Market Research Society).

Ends
About Prefix IT Ltd.

Prefix IT Ltd develops and markets PC security and management software to IT professionals and Managed Service Providers. Designed specifically to address the needs of mid-sized organisations (100-2,000 employees) Prefix products offer the broad functionality previously only available to large enterprises and multi-nationals. Prefix is backed by a group of investors advised by Goldman Investments. The antecedents of Goldman Investments go back to the late David Goldman, founder and Executive Chairman of The Sage Group plc (LSE: SGE). In more recent times, Goldman Investments has been closely involved in the development and, in 2004, listing of Invu (AIM: NVUK), a leading European document management software company. For more information, please visit http://www.prefixit.com.

For further information please contact:

Melissa Geddes
Worth PR
Tel: 0208 439 8200
E: mgeddes@worthpr.com

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