Most employees would snoop on sensitive information if given the chance

Nearly a quarter of UK employees admit to having illegally accessed sensitive internal information on their employer’s IT systems and more than half would do, given the opportunity, research reveals.

A survey of more than 2,200 UK workers, by polling firm YouGov, highlights the challenge facing IT, HR and finance departments in protecting confidential information from non-authorised employees.

When asked what type of information would tempt them most, respondents said that HR and payroll information was the most popular target (36%), followed by their manager’s personal notes (28%) and their colleagues’ personal notes (25%).

If presented with the opportunity, 6% said they would steal a colleague’s password, the research which was commissioned by Microsoft found.

Men tend to be more dishonest than their female colleagues with 27% of males, compared to 16% of women, admitting to having stolen confidential information.

Workers in London and Scotland (25%) were the most likely to offend, with the most honest workers living in the Midlands (18%).

“The results of this survey were surprising,” said Annemarie Duffy, marketing executive at Microsoft. “Particularly worrying is how vulnerable HR and payroll information has become, HR departments typically hold information that could be damaging for business and individuals if in the wrong hands.

“Details of salary, bank accounts, health records, National Insurance numbers, home address, family members could all be taken by a determined internal snooper or identity thief.”

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