Executives pose greatest data security risk, study finds

Research suggests that those at the very top of the food chain within a business are more likely to compromise the security and integrity of personal data and internal systems than those on a lower pay grade.

The news comes from a report compiled by Dynamic Markets on behalf of security vendor Sourcefire, which lays the blame at the feet of the portable devices owned for personal use but actually employed by 96 per cent of UK bosses to handle work-related data.

The percentage of less senior employees using their portable devices to take data away from the in-house systems is lower at a more manageable 69 per cent, which implies that the business leaders are putting their firms at greater risk of data loss, breach or theft than anyone else.

Nearly 25 per cent of workers admitted to employing personal email accounts to send work-related documents or details, with 18 per cent of this portion attributing this usage to the fact that in-house email services could fail. Twelve per cent said that they had to use personal email accounts to send certain work critical documents because the business firewall would otherwise block any attempts originating internally.

Eighty-three per cent of workers said that they were aware of the potential for data loss or security breaches as a result of using personal devices or email accounts, but a third said that even if policy prohibited their usage they would not be dissuaded.

Fifty per cent of average employees said that there was a collective responsibility for the protection of business data, while only seven per cent attributed this responsibility solely to the head of IT.

Less than a third of the respondents said that they had been supplied with antivirus software or firewalls to protect personal devices and accounts and 75 per cent claim that the public sector needs to get involved and make a concerted effort to create a more secure environment on the internet.

A majority of IT workers questioned said that cloud computing would become a significant tool in the coming months and years, but 87 per cent are still concerned that it will cause new and perhaps more complex security risks which will require assessment.

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