Police warn employers of data security threats at Christmas

Employers have been urged to guard against corporate data theft as companies wind down their operations over the Christmas holidays.

The Metropolitan Police’s Computer Crime Unit said that although hacking and virus attacks tend to slow down over Christmas, businesses were at greater risk from internal staff attacks on company data.

Detective inspector Chris Simpson, who heads the unit, told Personnel Today’s sister title Computer Weekly: “Companies usually have a skeleton staff in their offices over the festive period.

“While there are many reasons for a physical presence in the office, managers must be acutely aware that unsupervised staff may be much more able to abuse internal systems.”

Law firm Mishcon de Reya said data theft was the fastest growing area of corporate fraud and featured in one in every three fraud cases investigated.

Customer lists, contact databases, proprietary company information and computer software are favourite targets for theft, the law firm said.

Paul Simmonds, global information security director at ICI, said a major concern was staff sending seasonal jokes and screensavers which had the potential to be ‘malware’ which can infect company networks.

It can take anti-virus suppliers two weeks to update their signatures when staff return to work to find new viruses in their inboxes, he said.

Comments are closed.