Most IT pros have seen potentially embarrassing information about their colleagues

More than three-quarters of IT professionals have seen and kept secret potentially embarrassing information about their colleagues, according to new research conducted by AlienVault.

The research, which surveyed the attitudes of more than 600 IT professionals into how they are treated, found that many are being called in to help get their colleagues out of embarrassing situations at the office.

Almost all the respondents (95%) said that they have fixed a user or executive’s personal computer issue during their work hours. In addition, over three-quarters (77%) said that they had seen and kept secret potentially embarrassing information relating to their colleagues’ or executives’ use of company-owned IT resources.

The study highlights that very high levels of trust and responsibility are being placed on IT professionals over the course of their working lives.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, explains: “IT professionals are the superheroes of modern organizations. They are the people we call when things go wrong and who will drop everything to come and help us out if a problem occurs. But they are also the ones we trust with our secrets at work. If you click on a link that you shouldn’t have, or download a potentially dangerous file, then they are the people you’ll call. Some IT pros also have access to emails and data that has been quarantined due to its sensitive content. This gives them a clear vantage point into your private affairs, so it’s very important that you trust them.

“Working in IT is a 24-hour-a-day career and the boundaries of the job often become blurred – be they the hours worked, or the actual work that needs to be done. Often working in isolation, IT teams are still considered to be supporting players in many workplaces, yet the responsibility being placed on them is huge. In the event of a cyber attack, network outage or other major issue, they will typically drop everything to fix the problem at hand.”

But despite the responsibilities of the job, most of the IT professionals surveyed said that they love their jobs. The largest group of respondents (36%) reported being happy or very happy at work, while 32% felt unhappy and 31% were neutral. This could be because trust between employees is often cited as an important part of employee engagement that helps to create a sense of happiness and loyalty within the workplace.

A separate report into employee retention among IT professionals, also conducted by AlienVault, found that happiness at work was the main reason that people chose to stay in their jobs. In this study, which polled the views of over 130 IT professionals, happiness at work was cited by 65% of respondents as the reason they stay in their jobs – considerably more than those who cited convenience (19%) and money (13%).

Malik offers further observations on this angle: “Much research and many column inches have been used to discuss the skills gap in IT security and the problems of retaining good staff. But many CISOs and Security Operations Centre managers say that trusting team members and empowering them to make decisions is a good way to retain their loyalty.

“In our experience, the number one factor that influences employee commitment is the manager-employee relationship. Sticking up for people is the most recognizable difference I have seen between good and bad bosses. Environments where people are quick to be thrown under the bus usually have higher churn.”