Many Ex-Employees Admit to Stealing

When an employee walks out the door, you could be losing more than a potentially valuable worker.

According to a study by Symantec Corp. and the Ponemon Institute, 59 percent workers surveyed admitted to taking company data, including e-mail lists, employee records, customer contacts, and nonfinancial information.

Of the respondents who said they took company data, 61 percent also reported having an unfavorable view of their previous employer.

“Companies need to be more aware of who has access to sensitive business information,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “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.”

Although respondents were spread across many different industries, the highest percentage of survey responses came from the financial services industry.

The survey also showed:

  • 53 percent of respondents downloaded information onto a CD or DVD, 42 percent onto a USB drive and 38 percent sent attachments to a personal e-mail account.
  • 79 percent took data without an employer’s permission.
  • 82 percent said their employers did not perform an audit or review of paper or electronic documents before the respondent left the job.
  • 24 percent of respondents had access to their employer’s computer system or network after their departure from the company.
  • Of the respondents who had found new jobs by the time the survey was completed, 67 percent said they used their former company’s information at their new job.


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