Employee IT behaviour highlights GDPR compliance risk

Employees are ignoring company policies around confidential data

Chloe Green | 11th Jul 17

A large number of UK organisations are at risk of huge financial penalties, as employees ignore company policies around confidential data, according to new research from Sharp.

The electronics company identified that 1 in 12 office workers (8%) has had access to confidential information that they should not have had, and nearly a quarter (24%) admit to storing work information in the public cloud even though they are not permitted to.

File sharing and taking confidential data out of the office were also widespread with nearly a quarter (23%) using public file sharing sites without business approval, and a third (31%) ignoring office protocol by taking work home to complete. Even the rule makers in HR are flaunting IT policy, with 30% of respondents who work in HR departments admitting to storing information in the public cloud, potentially jeopardising personal data.

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018, organisations will be subject to large maximum fines for certain data protection breaches, making the adoption of robust data protection policies and practices a priority.

Stuart Sykes, Managing Director at Sharp Business Systems, said: “It is up to organisations to find the right balance between modern ways of working and secure data sharing. When you also consider that 75% of the workforce is now mobile and 81% of employees access work documents on the go, businesses need to do more to keep up with their workers.”

Security and privacy expert Dr Karen Renaud said that the results showed a need for organisations to provide better support for employees: “As long as businesses continue to require or implicitly overlook insecure behaviours, security will always be sacrificed.”

Risks were not limited to digital information; two thirds of workers (59%) reported that colleagues leave printed pages in the printer tray, significantly increasing the chances of documents being seen by the wrong person in the office.

Sharp has produced a free guide including advice from Dr Renaud on improving data security, available from www.sharp.co.uk/unlock.

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