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A new survey found that nearly three in four employees would be willing to share sensitive, confidential or regulated company information under certain circumstances.

Conducted by computer tech company Dell, the end-user security survey polled over 2,600 professionals who handle confidential data at companies with 250 or more employees.

“In most cases, their motives are not malicious – they are simply trying to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible,” explains the report.

“However, the survey results … make it clear that many companies are still lacking the policies and procedures to ensure this data sharing is done in a secure manner,” the report noted.

Of the respondents willing to share such sensitive information, the most cited circumstances included: being directed to do so by management (43 percent); sharing with a person authorized to receive it (37 percent); determining the risk to the company is very low and the potential benefit is high (23 percent); feeling it will help them do their job more effectively (22 percent); feeling it will help the recipient do their job more effectively (13 percent).

Dell End-User Security Survey
Source: Dell End-User Security Survey

The survey also found that employees in the financial services industry (81 percent) were the most willing to share sensitive data under certain circumstances, followed by employees in education (75 percent).

While slightly less likely, employees in the healthcare (68 percent) and federal government (68 percent) sectors also said they would be willing to share data.

Perhaps the most concerning findings of the survey involved the insecure ways in which employees choose to share the sensitive information.

Nearly half (45 percent) of employees across organizations admitted to engaging in “unsafe behaviors” throughout the workday, including connecting to public Wi-Fi to access confidential information (46 percent), using personal email accounts for work (49 percent) or losing a company-issued device (49 percent).

The company suggests that the only way to solve these challenges is for organizations to “strive for higher levels of awareness, enablement and protection simultaneously.”

“While every company has different security needs, this survey shows how important it is that all companies make an effort to better understand daily tasks and scenarios in which employees may share data in an unsafe way,” said Brett Hansen, Vice President of Endpoint Data Security and Management at Dell.

“Creating simple, clear policies that address these common scenarios in addition to deploying endpoint and data security solutions is vital in order to achieve that balance between protecting your data and empowering employees to be productive,” Hansen said.

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