Over a third of IT staff use company passwords to snoop on confidential information like colleagues' salary details and redundancy lists.
Data security company Cyber-Ark questioned over 400 IT staff in the US and the UK and 35% admitted to snooping, while 74% said it was possible for them to access information that was not relevant to their role.
The most common datasets IT workers access are HR records, layoff lists, merger and acquisition plans and marketing information. They also look up board-meeting minutes, the company said.
There was an increase on last year in the number of survey respondents who said, if fired, they would take information critical to retaining corporate advantage and security.
Other staff would take financial reports or merger and acquisition plans, and a further number would take passwords and research and development plans.