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One in four UK workers have maliciously leaked business data

Insider threat research has revealed that 24% of workers purposely shared info with other companies and nearly 50% have received an email by mistake

Nearly a quarter of UK workers have purposefully shared confidential business information outside their organisation, research has revealed.

This data is typically shared with competitors, or new and previous employers, according to research on the insider threat and how email misused, commissioned by data privacy and risk management firm Egress Software Technologies.

Half of all respondents said they either had or would delete emails from their sent folder if they had sent information somewhere they should not.

Almost half (46%) of respondents also said they had received a panicked email recall request, while 375 said they do not always check emails before sending them.

The biggest human factor in sending emails in error is listed as ‘rushing’ (68%), however alcohol also played a part in 8% of wrongly sent emails. Autofill technology, meanwhile, caused almost half (42%) to select the wrong recipient in the list.

Of those who had accidently sent an email to the wrong person, 40% accidentally insulted the recipient or included rude jokes, swear words and even risqué messages. Critically, almost one in 10 (9%) accidentally leaked sensitive attachments, such as bank details or customer information, putting customers and their own organisations at risk.

 The survey of 2,000 UK workers who regularly use email as part of their jobs was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Egress.

“Email is frequently misused by the UK workforce,” said Tony Pepper, CEO and co-founder of Egress. “While offending an accidental recipient may cause red faces, leaking confidential information can amount to a data breach,” he said.

As the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance deadline approaches, Pepper said it has never been more important to get a grip on any possible risk points within the organisation. “And, as this research shows, email needs serious attention,” he said.

Read more about insider threats

To tackle the accidental email problem, Egress has launched Switch Threat Protection, which alerts users and central administrators when they are sending an email to potentially the wrong person, preventing the release of sensitive content before it happens.

“Data breaches are becoming much more prevalent and organisations are struggling to mitigate the risks caused by unpredictable user behaviour,” said Pepper. “Switch Threat Protection acts as an additional line of defence, helping employees and administrators spot and prevent potential breaches,” he said.

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