Thirty-five per cent of companies believe that their organisation's sensitive information has been given to competitors, according to a new survey.
Cyber-Ark Software's "Trust, Security and Passwords" global survey also found that 37 per cent of IT professionals surveyed cited former employees as the mostly likely source of this loss.
However, human error followed second, with 28 per cent of respondents saying this was the most likely cause, followed by 10 per cent who believed that it was a result of an external hack, and 10 per cent who cited the loss of a mobile device or laptop.
The IT security company questioned more than 400 senior IT administrators in the UK and US in the spring of 2010 for the fourth annual survey.
The survey found that the most popular sensitive information to be shared with competitors was the customer database (26 per cent) and R&D plans (13 per cent).
Cyber-Ark suggested that to address the vulnerabilities related to human error, companies need to deploy additional layers of control on sensitive data.
In addition, Cyber-Ark's survey found that IT professionals are increasingly using their privileges to access sensitive or confidential information. A total 41 per cent of respondents admitted to abusing administrative passwords to do so, an increase from 33 per cent in 2008 and 2009.
Furthermore, 67 per cent of respondents admitted to having accessed information that was not relevant to their role, and the IT department was identified as the biggest culprit, with 54 per cent saying that IT staff were most likely to snoop, with HR coming second at 11 per cent.
Preference for the type of data that IT staff snooped on varied depending on geography, with 30 per cent of UK respondents accessing HR records first, compared to 28 per cent of US respondents, and 38 per cent of US respondents choosing to sneakily access the customer database first, compared to just 16 per cent of UK respondents.
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