A report from the Ponemon Institute shows that three out of every four organisations has been hit by data theft or data loss. And that this is mainly due to employee and third-party access to sensitive information.
Some of this is down to insider negligence, but it is also due to employee theft of data. There have been prominent news stories of employees stealing customer details from their employers, or hackers using employee details to access confidential customer data.
Why The Surge in Data Theft?
“Company fraud is one of the major risks businesses face,” Tony Smith, Director of Operations at Insight, explains. “Theft of valuable customer data can occur when an employee leaves to set up or work for a rival business. In fact, employees may consider the files that they work on to be their own, rather than belonging to the company.”
This misplaced sense of entitlement then leads to employees systematically stealing data.
“It constitutes an offence because the person is knowingly attempting to gain from dishonest action, either for themselves or for the benefit of others,” Tony points out.
“One of a company’s key assets is its customer database, and any breach of this is likely to have serious consequences”
First there is the loss of data which may be exploited by a competitor and used to poach customers. Then there is the reputational damage such a loss of data can deal to a business when it becomes known.
There is also the threat to the customers themselves, should the data contain sensitive information.
“The implications are far-reaching and the consequences grave,” Tony says, “which is why investigating these situations requires diligence and a forensic attention to detail.”
Why Supporting Evidence is Vital
It is not only the loss of customer data that is costly to businesses: the whole issue of employee tribunals and disciplinary action has potentially severe financial implications.
“It’s risky, because if a company loses its case, then it will be responsible for paying damages to its former employee,” Tony remarks.
Tony’s own company, Insight, specialises in detailed investigations and forensic evidence-gathering, to help ensure that when data theft occurs, businesses can discover the source and are able to mount a solid case against the perpetrators.
“We aim to uncover enough evidence to build an accurate picture, so that businesses can act against those who have stolen data from them,” Tony concludes.