If you believe the results of some surveys done in the last couple of years, corporate data is at great risk when it comes to ex-employees. Here are the results of some of those surveys, as well as the results of a TechRepublic poll.


A survey published by the Ponemon Institute shows that 59% of people who were laid off, fired, or who quit their jobs in the last 12 months admitted to stealing company data. Sixty-seven percent admitted to using their former company’s confidential information to leverage a new job. The “Jobs at Risk = Data at Risk” survey was conducted with 945 individuals and was sponsored by Symantec (who is, coincidentally, the maker of data-loss prevention products). Here are more stats from the survey, according to Computerworld:

  • The respondents’ work roles were broken down as 20% corporate information technology, 10% financial and accounting, 24% sales, 8% marketing and communications, with the remainder spread across fields like general management, logistics and transportation, research and development, and human resources.
  • The respondents came from close to two dozen vertical industries, such as manufacturing or healthcare, as well as education and government.
  • 61% of respondents who felt negatively about the company took data, while only 26% of those with a favorable view did.

Last September, PC World published a survey of 100 IT workers that yielded this result:

88 percent of IT administrators admitted they would take corporate secrets (like CEO passwords, the customer database, research and development plans, financial reports, merger and acquisition plans, and the company’s list of privileged passwords) if they were suddenly laid off.

When I wrote about that survey back in September, I included a poll for TechRepublic members. The poll garnered 1,967 respondents, and the results were:

  • No, under no conditions would I steal data. (1692 votes)
  • Yes, if the company had treated me harshly. (227 votes)
  • Yes, I would steal data just because I could. (48 votes)

These results indicate that 86 percent of the TechRepublic members who responded would not take corporate data. That’s nearly the same percentage of people in the PC World survey who said they would take data. I’m not sure what this huge disparity signifies. Maybe TechRepublic members are just more honest.