Data theft cases rocket with smaller firms hit hard by ex-employees

Lwa firm EMW has identified disgruntled SME employees as prime offenders in a growing number of data theft cases.

The number of High Court cases relating to the theft of confidential information rose 250% between 2010 and 2012, with the majority of victims being SMEs and the majority of perpetrators being employees who were leaving the company according to new research.

There were 167 cases focusing on the theft of confidential information in the High Court in 2012, up from 106 in 2011 and just 45 in 2010.

The majority of these cases were businesses launching civil claims against former employees to prevent them from using confidential data obtained from company databases according to a report from law firm EMW.

The proliferation of cloud-based storage sites such as Dropbox, and small storage devices such as USB drives are two enabling factors behind this surge. They make it easy for data thieves to copy entire databases in a matter of seconds.

Furthermore, EMW has revealed that companies dependent on vital databases are increasingly seeing disgruntled employees copying company databases and other business‑critical information.

Sometimes the offender takes the data in order to hand it on to competitors, and sometimes in order to set up a business of their own, says Mark Finn, a principal at EMW. “Either way, it’s as unlawful as any other high‑value breach of confidential information.”

With the employment market starting to recover from recession, and businesses beginning to poach staff from rivals again, companies must remain as vigilant as ever to ensure staff don’t take crucial data with them as they leave say security advisors.