Whether it’s identity theft or any other type of fraud, a business can be crippled by stolen information. However, while external data theft gets much of the media attention, internal thefts are on the rise.
According to CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, the number of fraud cases committed by employees has had a sharp increase. This so-called ‘staff fraud’ has had a sharper increase than any other type of fraud.
Why Are Employees Stealing?
A recent report by Symantec found that a whopping half of all employees who were fired or left their jobs took sensitive data with them. Their survey also showed that 40 percent of these employees planned to use that data in their new jobs. For some companies, this can mean past employees intend to steal away clients and customers when they leave. The economic impact of this can be significant. Symantec’s report also showed that over half of those surveyed didn’t think that their companies would care that they had taken such data when they left. In the case of intellectual property, many employees surveyed thought that it belonged to the individual who created it rather than the company they worked for. Over half of those surveyed by Symantec also noted that they didn’t feel that theft of corporate data was acceptable because there was no enforcement of security. With data being easily available to take, and nobody saying not to, employees feel there is nothing wrong with taking it with them to a new job.
Why Is Staff Fraud Dangerous?
Beyond intellectual property, the risk of corporate data being taken by employees can open a company up to significant problems. It can allow competitors to take customers, as well as ideas.
In some cases, such as that of a Scottish Post Office employee, staff fraud can leave a company in the centre of a criminal investigation. In that case, a staff member was using his position to steal money from a customer. Access to customers’ personal data allowed the staff member to steal thousands of pounds.
A Positive Note
One positive side of the statistical increase in staff fraud, said CIFAS, is that it means such crimes are being caught and reported. They noted that when companies are aware of a culture of staff fraud, they can take more steps to prevent attacks. There are a variety of steps a company can take to prevent staff fraud. The first is creating a culture of security. This can range from having employees sign an enforceable non-disclosure agreement to properly disposing of data. Making sure that sensitive data, such as financial information and customer details, are properly disposed of can make staff fraud a far less easy proposition. Using a shredding service, such as Assured Shredding, can destroy your documents and information media to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accredited levels.
An additional benefit of using a shredding service is that they will install a locked console for your office. This allows employees a way to dispose of sensitive information easily and on-site. It can limit the access to such data when it is ready to be shredded.
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