Employees causing security threats?

Posted On 31 Oct 2013
Comment: Off

Nearly 30% of employees are using personal cloud services to store work-related documents, according to a survey conducted at recent technology trade shows in which 5% of respondents also admitted to uploading confidential data to their personal cloud accounts. The severity of this threat to their employers is the subject of a new report from Varonis Systems. The survey of over 120 companies was conducted at Microsoft TechEd events in June. It was aimed at uncovering how much confidential information is being leaked beyond corporate walls. One of the leading causes for data leakage is from employees who upload sensitive, work-related data to their personal cloud accounts. The survey found that a small percentage of employees are uploading a large number of files containing confidential work-related data. Additionally, the survey sought to find out what measures companies are taking to deter employees from absconding with this sensitive data as they leave the company. ” Before a company can begin to address the leakage of intellectual property, it’s important to accurately identify the source of the leaks and address the low-hanging fruit,” said David Gibson, VP of Marketing at Varonis.” We were surprised by the low awareness level of NDAs among employees. While the signing of NDAs (non-disclosure agreement) is typically part of an employee’s onboarding process, it is often forgotten. It’s clear that employers can do more to improve employee knowledge of their confidentiality obligations. NDA awareness should be part of a comprehensive IP protection program that also includes employee training along with the implementation of proper access and security controls for sensitive, non-public data.” The survey indicates that having an NDA in place can help reduce the number of employees who upload sensitive data to their cloud accounts without company approval to 13% from a current average of 18%.” The data may be showing that those employees who say they signed an NDA are in organisations that have such IP programs and therefore have greater awareness of their legal risks in uploading sensitive data to the cloud,” Gibson observed. In the survey, 44% of employees claim to have not signed NDAs. This is a sign that companies have significant room for improvement in communicating the value and importance of their IP to their workers. Another way to significantly reduce IP leakage is to simply ask employees during an exit interview to return or delete any data that belongs to the organisation. However, results from the survey indicated that only 46% of respondents were asked to return digital content when leaving their last position. In addition to the best practices listed in the report, organisations can further protect themselves against sensitive data leakage by blocking public cloud services and offering a sanctioned alternative to public cloud-based lockers that offer the same user experience while keeping data under the organisation’s control.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.