Survey: Most Employees Likely to Share Confidential Data

A recent Dell survey indicated many employees would share confidential information, regardless of data security protocols. The "Dell End-User Security Survey" of 2,608 business professionals revealed 72 percent of respondents said they would share confidential, regulated or sensitive information under certain circumstances.

Also, the survey said 81 percent of employees in financial services would share confidential information, and workers in education (75 percent), healthcare (68 percent) and federal government (68 percent) are open to disclosing confidential data at high rates.

Why Would Employees Share Confidential Data?

The survey showed employees would share confidential information for the following reasons:

  • Being directed to do so by management (43 percent).
  • Sharing with a person authorized to receive the information (37 percent).
  • Determining that the risk to their company is very low, and the potential benefit of sharing information is high (23 percent).
  • Feeling that sharing information will help them do their job more effectively (22 percent).
  • Feeling that sharing information will help the recipient do their job more effectively (13 percent).

In addition, the survey indicated employees often are caught between two imperatives: being productive and efficient on the job and maintaining the security of company data.

To overcome this conflict, companies must educate employees and enforce data security policies and procedures consistently, Dell pointed out.

"When security becomes a case-by-case judgement call being made by the individual employee, there is no consistency or efficacy," Brett Hansen, Dell's vice president of endpoint data security and management, said in a prepared statement. "These findings suggest employees need to be better educated about data security best practices, and companies must put procedures in place that focus first and foremost on securing data while maintaining productivity."

Employees Lack Cybersecurity Empowerment

Many employees have a "love-hate" relationship with cybersecurity, according to the survey.

The survey revealed 65 percent of respondents said they feel it is their responsibility to protect confidential data, educate themselves on possible risks and behave in a way that protects their company. Conversely, 36 percent noted they feel "very confident" in their knowledge of how to protect sensitive company information.

Moreover, the survey showed 76 percent of respondents stated they believe their company prioritizes data security at the expense of employee productivity.

Data Security Tips

There is no "one-size-fits-all solution" to resolve data security issues, Dell indicated. Yet there are many ways for businesses and employees to work together to secure confidential data.

Dell offered the following data security recommendations to drive higher levels of awareness, enablement and protection:

  • Develop simple, clear data security policies. Businesses should create data security policies that define end-user access, types of data, who can have access to the data and rules for data dissemination outside of the organization.
  • Enable workplace productivity. Data security should support business initiatives through close alignment between a company's C-suite and IT teams.
  • Leverage data security solutions that provide anywhere, anytime protection. Companies need data security solutions to safeguard confidential information that is stored on PCs and mobile devices, shared in the cloud, sent to a personal email account or transferred to an external device.

Businesses require data security programs that address awareness, enablement and protection, Dell stated. That way, companies can protect confidential information in a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.