Employees evade and ignore network security policies

There is a general lack of awareness and enforcement of security policies and procedures in companies today, according to new research announced by the Ponemon Institute – “Trends in Insider Compliance with Data Security Policies: Employees Evade and Ignore Security Policies.”

The majority of respondents admit to serious non-compliant workplace behaviors that place their companies at risk. Such behaviors include the insecure use of USB memory sticks, use of Web-based email, sharing passwords, turning off security settings and more.

According to the study, 69 percent of employees surveyed said that they copy confidential or sensitive business information onto USB devices, while only 13 percent of respondents said their companies have a policy that allows this, showing a 48 percent non-compliance rate.

61 percent admitted to copying confidential or sensitive business information onto USB devices, and then transferring the information to another computer that is not part of the corporate network.

Over half of the respondents said that they download personal Internet software to their company computers, which significantly increases the risk of introducing viruses, worms and other malware into an organization’s network.

58 percent of the respondents said that their companies do not provide adequate training about compliance with data security policies, and about the same number said the data security policies are ineffective.

Approximately half of the survey participants said their corporate data security policies are largely ignored by employees and management, and that the policies are too complex to understand.

Compared with a similar study conducted by Ponemon Institute in 2007, the rate of non-compliant employee behavior appears to be getting worse over time.

“As mobile devices become more and more prevalent in the workplace, our research shows that policies and enforcement are not keeping up with the increased risk of a data breach,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “Employees are under tremendous pressure to be highly mobile and productive, but they aren’t being properly educated on the risks to data integrity; they are taking data outside of the organizational structure without complete understanding or awareness of the serious implications of a breach or misuse of sensitive information.”

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