Lieberman Survey Underscores Internal Security Threats

While the world is distracted with the continuing reports of phone hacking practices and other corporate data breaches,a new survey reveals that hundreds of organizations are now vulnerable to internal threats. According to a recent survey conducted by Lieberman Software, 42 percent of IT staff can get unauthorized access to their organization’s most sensitive information – including the CEO’s private documents. The failing is blamed on management’s naivety when it comes to understanding just how much privileged access their IT departments actually have.

According to 39 percent of the technology professionals interviewed in this study, their senior management does not have the faintest idea what IT can and cannot access. And, a staggering 78 percent admitted they could walk out of the office tomorrow taking highly sensitive information with them.While a third of respondents said they’d still be able to access sensitive information long after leaving the company – as the result of lapses in the organization’s security practices.
 
Commenting on this research Philip Lieberman, president and CEO of Lieberman Software, said “Companies should wake up to the fact that IT holds the keys to the kingdom. Nothing is secret or private unless you establish systems and procedures to lock down data from prying eyes and, according to our study, most organizations don’t. In the good old days the most sensitive data was locked away in a filing cabinet with just one or two trusted key holders. Today, it’s locked away in a virtual filing cabinet, but the problem is that most companies have no idea just how many people have keys to this cabinet. What’s clear from this survey is that management just doesn’t understand the privileges their IT staff have to the most sensitive data. Even the bosses’ documents can be read by 42 percent of IT personnel and, if these guys can’t be trusted – which in some cases they can’t – the directors shouldn’t be surprised when their data gets leaked or exploited.”
 
In the United States, 22 percent of IT workers worry about their job compared to a third of IT workers in the United Kingdom.

The survey amongst nearly 500 IT workers in the U.S. and U.K., was commissioned to unearth sentiment toward ethics in the workplace. It found that there was a strong correlation between job security and the propensity to steal sensitive data.  Nearly a third of people – 31 percent – who were fearful of losing their jobs admitted that they would take sensitive data with them to their next role, compared to just 18 percent of those who felt their jobs were secure.
 
It is worth noting that the smaller the company, the higher the percentage of people who were insecure about the stability of their employment. In companies with less than 1,000 employees, 31 percent of IT professionals strongly agreed to being worried about the stability of their employment, versus 20 percent of respondents at companies with more than 1,000 employees.
 
When comparing the two countries, more IT professionals in the U.K. say they could take sensitive information away with them to their next job – with 85 percent admitting it would be easy compared with 76 percent of their U.S. counterparts. 
 
What drives snooping?

The 15 percent of UK IT professionals compared with just nine percent of US IT professionals, admitted they’d use their admin rights to snoop around the network in an effort to sneak a peak at sensitive data – such as personnel records to try and find out if their job, or a colleague’s job, was at risk.
 
The survey was conducted by Lieberman Software at RSA Conference 2011 and Infosecurity Europe 2011 amongst nearly 500 IT professionals. The full results can be found at Liebsoft.com.

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