One of the big fears CIOs and IT staffers have about the consumerization of IT and BYOD trends is that mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone combined with personal cloud services like iCloud, Google Docs, and Dropbox make it very easy for confidential business data to leave the office and the company network.While this is a definite fear for IT staff, how do most knowledge workers view the risk and the consequences of such so-called data sprawl?
According to a recent study, four out of five workers rank removing confidential data from the office as an offense that should get a person fired and yet 90% believe that it happens on a regular basis.
The study, commissioned by cloud storage provider FileTrek, found several interesting results:
- 90% of workers believe the confidential documents and records are removed from their company’s physical and/or digital premises
- 79% of workers feel removing confidential documents from the office should be grounds for termination – that ranked just below sexual harassment and incompetence, which 85% and 82% of workers considered being worthy of firing respectively
- Younger workers (18 – 34) find the notion more acceptable than older workers (55 and older) – 68% to 55%
Being accused of taking confidential files topped the list (72%) of what employees dread most in work situations. It was followed by knowing that a coworker has shared confidential information outside the office and being confronted by management about what they know (53%).
Despite all the other findings, the study found that close to two thirds of workers (60%) believed that there were situations where removing confidential information was warranted – citing the following reasons:
- 48% – when boss says it’s okay to do so
- 32% – to finish a late night project from home instead of having to stay at the office
- 30% – to work over the weekend or while on vacation
- 16% – when it is confidential information about themselves
- 2% – when it can be brought back to the office before the boss knows it was gone
- 2% – to show something to family or friends who promise to keep it confidential
These results are a mixed bag for IT concerns. They show that there is awareness of data security and privacy needs among workers, but they also show that a large number of people feel that those needs can and are being superseded by other factors.
Also a mixed bag is that, although mobile devices and cloud services are major areas of concern for IT, they don’t yet represent the primary method for removing confidential data. 55% of users reporting that if they removed files, they would use a USB flash drive.