Published: February 14th, 2013

According to security vendor Symantec Corp., half of employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months kept confidential corporate data and 40 per cent plan to use it in their new jobs.

According to Symantec, the results show everyday employees’ attitudes and beliefs about intellectual property theft are at odds with the vast majority of company policies. They also don’t think their companies care , with only 47 per cent saying their organization takes action when employees take sensitive information contrary to company policy and 68 per cent saying their organization does not take steps to ensure employees do not use confidential competitive information from third-parties.

In other survey findings, 62 per cent said it’s acceptable to transfer work documents to personal computers, tablets, smartphones or online file sharing applications, and the majority never delete the data they’ve moved. Some 56 per cent don’t think it’s a crime to use a competitor’s trade secret information.

To counter this trend, Symantec recommends employee education on confidential information and IP theft, the enforcement of non-disclosure agreements, and the implementation of a data protection policy that uses monitoring technology for compliance.

“Companies cannot focus their defenses solely on external attackers and malicious insiders who plan to sell stolen IP for monetary gain. The everyday employee, who takes confidential corporate data without a second thought because he doesn’t understand it’s wrong, can be just as damaging to an organization,” said Lawrence Bruhmuller, vice president of engineering and product management, Symantec, in a statement. “Education alone won’t solve the problem of IP theft. Companies need data loss prevention technologies to monitor use of IP and flag employee behavior that puts confidential corporate data at risk. The time to protect your IP is before it walks out the door.”