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Employees Would Steal Data When Leaving a Job

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-about-business-cards dept.

Security 457

An anonymous reader writes "Employees openly admit they would take company data, including customer data and product plans, when leaving a job. In response to a recent survey, 49% of US workers and 52% of British workers admitted they would take some form of company property with them when leaving a position: 29% (US) and 23% (UK) would take customer data, including contact information; 23% (US) and 22% (UK) would take electronic files; 15% (US) and 17% (UK) would take product information, including designs and plans; and 13% (US) and 22% (UK) would take small office supplies."

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457 comments

small office supplies? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288112)

data?

i guess if i took a huge dump i could call the result 'data'

maybe :\

Supplies? No. Doughnuts? Yes (5, Funny)

Robert Bowles (2733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288522)

When I get sacked, I plan to grab all the doughnuts I can and run out of the building screaming incoherently.

So. (4, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288122)

Escorting people out of the building and revoking their access privileges the second they get fired is actually warranted?

Re:So. (2, Funny)

swilver (617741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288216)

That's pointless. Better to confiscate all their personal digital equipment.

Re:So. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288264)

This is why I just keep an up to date private encrypted copy of any software files I produce. So in the event of being escorted out I'm not without work I've produced so I can reference it down the road. Yeah the company owns the copyright, but sometimes I like to see how I did something (even if I have to do it a different way the next time).

Re:So. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288274)

I actually support removing access privileges instantly in all cases where the employee is leaving: even if they're working out their final two weeks or something, it's better to have them having to do their work through someone who needs to learn how to do their job, than it is to have them "writing documentation" or "doing training" or any of a number of other stupid transition methods.

As far as preventing someone from stealing, I don't see how it would work for a tech industry. If your industry has tight data integrity, then they can't steal anyway, and if it doesn't they probably have some of it lingering on their home machines.

Re:So. (4, Interesting)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288726)

Honestly ... if my employer starts treating me like a thief during my last two weeks then I'm out of the building then and there. As far as I'm concerned, giving two weeks notice is a courtesy that I am extending. Besides, if I were so unethical as to take company secrets to my next gig then the pilfering would occur well before any notice given.

Re:So. (5, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288902)

Indeed. I care about my work. If I give 2 weeks notice them I'm available for 2 weeks to help them get their shit together so that someone else can take care of what I was doing and I can wrap up any lose ends. If the treatment though is basically to lock me out of everything though, then I'm not even going to bother.

What's the sense in it anyways? If you do that dance every time someone decided to leave then anyone who actually wants to sneak out information is going to do it the day BEFORE they turn in their 2 week notice anyways.

Re:So. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288556)

Doesn't do any good if the employee already had the data archived.

Re:So. (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288582)

Depends on what their definitions are. Businesses tend to do these studies using excessively strict standards. Things their own CEO do, (or far worse) are considered wrong.

For example, it mentions 'contacts'. Now, if you are a salesman AND the company introduced you to those contacts, then that would be company product. But if you are a computer programmer, copying your contacts is NOT stealing from the company. Furthermore, the courts have also ruled that even if you ARE a salesman, that taking contacts with you that you developed without aid from your company is again, NOT stealing (this is despite the stock brokerage firms repeatedly trying to ignore this law.)

These kind of stories are kind of like the shmucks that complain about IT people using their work PC, during work hours, to check their email. Then they want you to check answer your work emails at home via blackberry, even after working hours.

You need to take this kind of crap with boulder of skepticism

Re:So. (2, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288638)

That depends. Taking data is not the same as stealing it.

A lot depends upon the intellectual property clauses in the contract (often restrictive), but sometimes the IP is shared by the company and the individual. What if you work in research and the project was funded by a federal grant? That could very well be public information. What's better: letting your x-staff have a few minutes with a thumb drive and intimate knowledge of the directory information or dealing with the headache of freedom of information requests (which will have to go through your legal department and billed internally, etc...) when the guy sets up as a professor at some university and wants to publish the results or write the next grant (with research data paid for by the public).

What if the data is entirely private? The x-staff member may still have a legal and vested interest in taking and or protecting it. For example: to ensure a patent is filed on the IP (which would be owned by the company more than likely) to make sure he gets his fair share of the royalty checks down the road (again depends on contract). (Or to be able to prove that the x-employee was involved with the project if the company later decides to patent without passing on royalties. Although taking data for such reasons will also have a lot to do with the IP clauses in the contract.

Revoke privileges instantly and you may find yourself with a freedom of information act or a subpoena real quick. A company shouldn't play hard ball unless it's willing to have it hit back. There should be respect all around; for the person who gave a certain portion of his life for the company and for the company who provided for a persons livelihood.

Re:So. (0, Troll)

moogied (1175879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288678)

No, its not. They stole the data weeks ago, or more realistically it is just sitting on there desktops at home. I can't even rememeber the last company I saw that didn't allow people to connect into work from home on some level. Usually they lock down more sensitive files from being accessed by anything but a remote workstation, BUT that doesn't prevent someone from just copying that file to a more convient location while they work on it. Then they get home.. copy that to there desktop at home and finish there work on it.. reupload it, and go to bed.
They then get fired 3 weeks or 4 months later and they then get home,see that file, and DON'T delete it. Until they didn't delete it, it was never stolen.. but once they got home, realized they had it and decided not to delete it it is stealing.

Re:So. (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288874)

That's why you should do weekly offsite backups. Also, I've found it easier to restore an accidentally deleted file from personal backups than trying to get IT to restore from an "official" backup.

Sad Clown:( (3, Interesting)

jimktrains (838227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288134)

That's actually pretty saddening. I would have hoped that people were more honest and trustworthy than that:(

Re:Sad Clown:( (5, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288302)

I would have hoped that people were more honest and trustworthy than that:(

Well, at least they were honest with the survey taker...

Re:Sad Clown:( (5, Insightful)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288332)

Why should people be trustworthy to a company they can't trust and would fire them with no notice for trumped up reasons all so some manager can get better office furniture or an executive can get a bigger bonus?

Re:Sad Clown:( (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288366)

So working for a company that treats you like shit, cuts your pay, bullies you to work long hours, and then fires you is fine, but walking with a couple of boxes of pens is sacrilege?

I don't put myself in that sort of position: I don't usually have much trouble finding work, so I walk before I get stressed to that point. But I can certainly understand why a basically honest person might feel entitled to rip off a dishonest employer.

Honesty is a two way street.

Re:Sad Clown:( (1)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288558)

While I respect your opinion and enjoy your comments- I disagree with this one.

Honesty is not a two way street for me. I try to be honest in my interactions regardless of the behavior of others.

Or as I would think of it- why would I give a crooked employer the satisfaction of tainting my character?

Re:Sad Clown:( (1, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288804)

In other words, "Yes, officer, there are Jews hiding in the basement."

Also, contrary to popular opinion, there's nothing inherently dishonest about taking something which "belongs to someone else", tedious capitalist philosophers and their attempt to turn economics into physics notwithstanding. You might start getting dishonest when you swindle stuff from the company by lying, or if you start preaching about how you've never taken anything from anyone without paying. But announcing, "I'd take office supplies from my company if I was fired" and actually doing so is honest.

Moreover, refusing to answer the question, "Did you steal stuff?" is not dishonest. Replying "no" to a question where lack of answer will be taken as a "yes" (i.e. no respect for silence) can be argued as not dishonest.

Those who argue with appeals to emotion use words like "honest" to mean "abides by the principles I preach". That's not a reasonable definition.

Re:Sad Clown:( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288914)

I'm sorry but that sounds stupid. They don't care how they affect you. They won't get any satisfaction from "tainting your character", since they don't give two shits about you and won't ever think about you again. They aren't a cartoon villain, they just want to make money at your expense. What happens to you afterward is of no interest to them.

Re:Sad Clown:( (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288454)

That's actually pretty saddening. I would have hoped that people were more honest and trustworthy than that:(

Makes sense to me. Companies generally don't show any loyalty to their employees[0], so obviously employees are going to start behaving the same way.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap, etc, etc. These organisations have no-one to blame but themselves.

[0] The only exception to this I've seen in the last ~10 years is small, family run businesses where the employee knows the family socially.

Re:Sad Clown:( (1, Funny)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288468)

This just in.... people are douchebags!
but seriously, I was also a bit surprised at the high numbers. I guess I'd be tempted to take some code I've written though.

Re:Sad Clown:( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288896)

That's actually pretty saddening. I would have hoped that people were more honest and trustworthy than that:(

Well, your company doesn't have any loyalty to you, so why should you have it for them?

When I was "downsized" from my last job, I had already archived most of what I wanted to preserve for my personal records -- my email is mine to keep, and I don't care what they say about it. Same goes for my years of notes and lab books -- that's my property thank you. That's what I needed to write my resume for my next job, and to refer back to stuff.

I also grabbed a couple of configured VM images and software licenses that I could use strictly for personal usage and testing.

I'd never disclose trade secrets, or violate their copyright, or violate my non-compete, but after many years with them I was sure as hell going to keep this stuff for reference after investing so much of my time in it.

Hell, I've got the entire source code for several products I worked on that were scrapped during my time. A lot of that represents many years of my hard work, and I'll be damned if it just vanishes into the corporate fogettery for nothing -- because, let's face it, this kind of stuff ends up on a computer that eventually gets scrapped and never reused. I'd watched it happen numerous times before. Companies whinge about their intellectual property, and then sack everybody who knows what it was, and then it's all bit rot from there.

And, really, office supplies? I just consider those as part of my compensation package -- I take what I'm going to need so I can do my job. If a couple of spring-clips, highlighters, and post-it notes end up home with me, such is life. It's not like I took the printer or toner cartridges. Some percentage of office supplies are just the overhead of having employees, so I don't exactly feel like I've "stolen" anything.

So few take office supplies? (1)

CeruleanDragon (101334) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288138)

To be honest I'm a little surprised that so few would take office supplies. I would expect that to account for at least 80% of those who would take anything. It's how I got my red Swingline stapler. I like it because it binds less.

Re:So few take office supplies? (1)

srk2040 (973509) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288290)

You realize, the next person that gets hired will have their own office supplies and what ever left on the desk would be thrown out. So to help with the environment, just take all the stuff off your desk and clear the room for the next vato.

Re:So few take office supplies? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288318)

To be honest I'm a little surprised that so few would take office supplies.

And most wouldn't wait to be fired before taking them...

Re:So few take office supplies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288768)

More would take office supplies, but as soon as they reach for a box of paper clips they hear this voice inside their head and decide not to steal. Clippy is powerful that way. That may be his only use in the world.

You didn't think that voice was the voice of reason and morality, did you? Sheesh.

Well the companies take your soul.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288146)

... we are just getting even.

Yeah, I can see that for office supplies (4, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288502)

Yeah, I can see the getting even with office supplies. "They may have demanded 100 hour weeks, treated me like dirt, and spat me out on the street the second I started showing the slightest signs of burnout, but I got a pen with their logo and 100 sheets of A4 paper! Take that, corporate oppressors! They're probably already regretting the day they decided to fire me!"

Code? (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288148)

I've got a number of code libraries that migrate with me, but that's about it. Most of it I've opensourced at various times anyway. Far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing belongs to me in the first place.

Usually works out to their advantage: I had a guy contact me about some python code (my name is always in the header, along with my permanent email), and it turned out I was still using it, and had updated it enough to fix the problems that he was having with it. I was trying to figure out how he'd gotten his hands on such an old version when the email address registered.

Re:Code? (1)

wcoenen (1274706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288448)

Re:Code? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288690)

however if you work as a contractor or freelance programmer or some such then it's fairly trivial to sketch in an exclusion for a handful of libraries + a licence for your employer to use them whenever it comes time to sign contracts.

your boss doesn't automatically own anything you created before you started working for them.

Re:Code? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288732)

Whether or not you own the software you work on depends on the contract (if any) you sign with the place of employment or contracting agency you work with, and there are exceptions.

At one of my previous jobs, the company was perfectly happy to allow employees to open source (as in GPL) software they worked on in the workplace as long as it wasn't something the company was selling for a profit.

Re:Code? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288870)

Note that I posted this in an article about stealing stuff from work.

No shit I don't own the copyright. I don't own the copyright on this post.

However, since this post and my backend code libraries are both invisible to management, I can walk with 'em. And I don't see anything morally wrong with it.

Re:Code? (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288492)

Wow, I'd love to maintain code you've worked on. Sometimes you're lucky just to find the name of the author, if only to know who to curse under your breath (or out loud if it gets bad enough).

Re:Code? (1)

CavemanKiwi (559158) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288730)

I put my initials PMS (Paul Michael Smith) on all my code. I think it would be rather amusing to hear someone cursing that.

Re:Code? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288620)

IT works out to everyone's advantage and I agree this is a good practice. You can still be sued however.

Re:Code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288778)

No wonder you have no problem finding work! You work for free!

Wrong Statistics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288156)

51% of the US workers are liars and 48% of the British worker lie. Therefore, British workers are 3% more trustworthy.

Depends on circumstances (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288160)

Leaving on my own? I'd take nothing except my paycheck.

Fired and I deserved it? A few pens. Pack of paper.

Fired and I didn't deserve it? I'd GIVE them a lawsuit.

Re:Depends on circumstances (1)

srk2040 (973509) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288450)

I was clearning out my desk when I got laid off from work and found the next door cubicle had all our security infomation like Form SF86. They had mine and every IT worker that was applying for the government security. I was amanzed they just leave it piled up on a cubicle like that. Anyways, I know the company was going down the tube so I took my paper cuz it would be very very bad if they thrown it out and some guy found it out in dumpster. At the last day, I was pondering to email the rest of my coworkers and tell them what I found on the cubicle next door. Perhaps they would want to get their data but that would mean if someone wanted to sue the company, I would end up in the witness chair. Which is not worth it if you think it over.

Re:Depends on circumstances (3, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288470)

Fired and I didn't deserve it? I'd GIVE them a lawsuit.

Good luck with that, most US jurisdictions have "at-will" employment. Unless they fired you because you are a member of some protected class (female, minority, gay, etc.) you are most likely SOL. Even if they fired you because of that you are SOL unless you can prove it, which is no easy task. In my state they don't even have to give you a reason for letting you go.

Re:Depends on circumstances (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288526)

This is where working in IS has its perks. A lot of companies boil down to either dealing with data or providing a service, and most that provide services hang onto their customer data, so all in all - there is a lot of data to be had. Working IT, you generally have more access and privileges than other members of the company. I mean, I have access to active directory to add and remove and edit people's accounts. There is nothing stopping me from giving my own account full admin rights to everything (which it almost is anyways) - or from resetting the domain administrative password.

I deal with backing up the data day to day. I can basically do what I want with the tapes, no one checks my work. This would include all the emails off the exchange server, all the data the labs deal with, all the recent invoices, expenses, etc.

Now, here's where the benefits come in.

1) Job Security. They really don't want to have to fire you because they know of the dangers in doing so.

2) Bigger Paycheck. Buys loyalty.

3) Legally Questionable Options. Not something I'd want to get mixed up in - but for those people seeking a thrill.

Re:Depends on circumstances (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288662)

Leaving on my own? I'd take nothing except my paycheck.

Fired and I deserved it? A few pens. Pack of paper.

Fired and I didn't deserve it? I'd GIVE them a lawsuit.

Unfortunately for most people (and I'm betting you too) we live in "At Will" [wikipedia.org] work environments. So you'd have no law suit unless they REALLY trumped up charges (i.e. theft, assault, etc.).

You will be forever screwed. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288866)

Fired and I didn't deserve it? I'd GIVE them a lawsuit.

Employers can always find a reason for just cause for termination - always.

Ever wonder why performance reviews are fucking ridiculous and you can never meet all of your "benchmarks"?

And I can tell you this, even if you win the lawsuit after years of litigation and subsequently being unemployed because of it, you will at most get a couple of years of salary (most going for attorney's fees) and you will be forever unemployable because there's a database that tracks that kind of stuff. I asked my biz law instructor (employment lawyer in Atlanta).

It's the same for hiring - they can always find a reason not to hire you.

So what's the solution? (2, Funny)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288168)

Arrest 49% of the employees that leave the company?

Re:So what's the solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288494)

Good news is, if you do it randomly, you still catch half of the bad apples!

Source code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288174)

I don't take data, but I did take the source code when I left my last role for my personal use. I've been told that taking samples of your work isn't a crime but I honestly don't believe that.

I also had to update some of our systems to prevent employees that were about to made redundant from having further access. Kind of sucked when you got to find out who was leaving before they did, especially if they sat directly opposite you like happened in one case.

It's my stapler (4, Funny)

drachenfyre (550754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288176)

I just want my stapler back... The new ones aren't as good as the swinglines.

Re:It's my stapler (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288508)

When I left Boeing, I packed 'my' stapler in my personal belongings. When a cow-orker spotted me doing that, I informed him that I had originally acquired it when another employee was about to pitch it in the garbage (they had loaded the wrong size staples in it, jammed it, and were too lazy to try to fix it). I told him I'd be more than happy to return it from whence it came.

Would they use it? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288192)

The obvious, interesting follow-up question is, how many of them would sell, share, or otherwise exploit that data? Would they take measures to protect it, or simply misplace it? I figure at least some of that's got to be people who don't see the point in deleting that sly backup they made so they could work on their reports at home, or whatever, and those are people who don't represent a threat to company security. "Stealing" data itself causes the company no harm. Using the customer list to set up one's own business, losing that data on the bus, or selling on some trade secrets, is where the concern lies.

Great (4, Interesting)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288204)

Just what we need, more ammo to put multi-year non-competition agreements on employees.

I live where that one really big business used to be, what was it called... Apple hated them... IBM or something I think. =P I've seen thousands of jobs slashed here in my time, and a lot of those people walked out the door with a clause behind them stating they couldn't even begin to work in the industry again for at least a year.

A year is a long, long, long time for your typical family to drop from working wages to unemployment.

Re:Great (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288484)

I live where that one really big business used to be, what was it called... Apple hated them... IBM or something I think. =P I've seen thousands of jobs slashed here in my time, and a lot of those people walked out the door with a clause behind them stating they couldn't even begin to work in the industry again for at least a year.

this is just another reason why California is one of the best places to be a tech employee, if you can find a job anyway. You can't enforce a noncompetition clause against a person in this state, only against a business.

I don't understand this arrangement (4, Informative)

tacokill (531275) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288736)

If you are laid off from your employer, how are non-compete agreements enforceable at all? I am suspicious of your claim that people who had their "jobs slashed" would still be under a non-compete of anykind.

It's like unemployment. You don't just automatically get unemployment if you are out of work. If you are terminated for cause, then you get no unemployment. If you quit on your own, you get no unemployment. However, if you are laid off, then you will qualify for unemployment.

Non-compete agreements have the same basic legal structure. You can't be held to a non-compete if your employer lays you off as a normal part of downsizing. You may very well be held to a non-compete if you are fired for cause and/or quit on your own.

The distinction is subtle, but important in the eyes of the law.

Why wait till you leave? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288214)

I would not take any data; but I would like this chair though. Plus It would be nice to get a seat on the underground on the way home.

Re:Why wait till you leave? (1)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288380)

The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, and this magazine, and the chair and that's all I need. I'm not some kind of jerk, after all.

Yes, but will they actually do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288254)

Saying you will consider committing data or property theft in a survey is one thing, but actually doing it when push comes to shove, is different.

'Steal' (2, Insightful)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288258)

How do you steal data if you copied it? Goes back to the whole MPAA thing with music.

I think it's all about what you can use in the future. If I do a number of excel sheets which are used for layout optimization, and take copies for reference later, is that wrong? How about my outlook contacts which might come in handy later? I think if it's purely business between you and the company, then keep it clean (with the exceptions I used above). If it's ugly, still keep it clean as possible, but don't do them any favors.

Re:'Steal' (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288684)

While making a (potentially) illegal copy of a public work is "copyright infringement", I readily call taking trade secrets "stealing". There's a big difference between taking a published work and an unpublished one.

Contacts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288280)

Some employers will recruit staff who can bring a long list of contacts from their last company. It's not what you know but who you know and all that.

But what sectors were interviewed? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288294)

That proportion seems a little high for say, IT workers, who'd probably have little use for customer data outside the job they're in, but I could imagine sales staff however being more likely to do such a thing because having a good network of contacts can be a major benefit when moving into other jobs as a salesman- especially if you're on performance related pay and need to hit sales targets, there is quite high financial motive there for it.

Also from another point of view, it's possibly a good indicator of job satifcation, if staff are pissed off at work then they're going to have less loyalty to the company which will in turn leave them less worried about feeling guilty for doing that sort of thing. In many cases, companies probably bear some responsibility in creating this mindset by treating, or allowing their staff to be treated like shit and making them want to get the fuck out of the company and with a vengeance too.

Re:But what sectors were interviewed? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288668)

How many IT workers might "steal" code or complicated scripts they wrote while working as a programmer or sysadmin, even if it's just via memorization?

Re:But what sectors were interviewed? (1)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288864)

> That proportion seems a little high for say, IT workers, who'd probably have little use for customer data

Imagine you were downsized in an economy that has ~10% unemployment, and you had good reason not to relocate from a high-unemployment area. IT is one area where it is really easy to start your own company with very little startup cost. It is also common due to office politics to have a really good idea ignored. You are now free to go to the customers directly and say, "I can save you $$$ over my old company!", and back up your claims with real data. This is a common start-up company recipe.

No one should be surprised (5, Insightful)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288300)

This is what happens when companies are disloyal to their employees. The employees become disloyal to the company. If the executives would stop being greedy, arrogant shithead; stop fattening their pockets at the expense of the company, the shareholders, and the employees; and treating employees like expendable resources instead of people, this would not be a problem. But, they are psychopathic assholes, so it is going to continue.

Re:No one should be surprised (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288596)

That's an excellent point, and I wonder about the scale of the comparative damage. I doubt some employee taking home some pens and pencils begins to compare to how much some executives or owners can drain from companies with their bonuses, compensation packages, stock plans, etc. Sorry, but if fired employees are taking some $10-20 worth of stuff, who cares? I'd like to see a survey about business owners/execs and how much they like to underpay the staff to pad their own pockets.

Gotta consider the source (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288314)

"according to Harris Interactive."

If this is the same "Harris Interactive" that spams me 100x per week with polls to gather personally identifiable information from me for marketing purposes, then I'd say the "study" is probably bunk.

Stealing company supplies? (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288344)

At my severance interview, the boss told me that the really good pens were on the top shelf.

Re:Stealing company supplies? (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288580)

At my severance interview, the boss told me that the really good pens were on the top shelf.

And when Joseph's brothers left Egypt, he planted a goblet in one of Benjamin's sacks. Make sure you're not accidentally taking anything if you don't want a psycho higher-up to stir up trouble should they find out.

I only wish... (2, Interesting)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288370)

I only wish I had taken more when my previous employer closed its doors. I wrote some really amazingly cool little shell scripts for various systems administration and code deployment tasks that I neglected to grab copies of. I had to re-invent a few wheels over the past four years due to that short-sightedness.

Samples of my own code - heck yeah, company secrets or customer data? no way!

Office stuff? Only the crap I brought in with me: my 24" monitor, a couple mice and keyboards and my hella sweet phone headset. (stuff I brought in myself cuz I couldn't justify them well enough to my boss, but I really felt my work life was better having.)

Plan Ahead (1)

Drew8800 (1881498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288388)

I can't imagine that anyone planning to leave their company wouldn't start siphoning off data weeks or months in advance. To combat that, my DBA tracks queries over a certain number of records that match particular criteria - namely client/customer info. She then keeps a log of those queries for a couple months to see if there's a pattern. That way we'll know if when a person leaves if they've been taking data.

Give 2 months notice if leaving (4, Interesting)

eclectus (209883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288394)

I knew a man who played the system quite well when leaving a job. He gave three months notice on his resignation letter, and they immediately revoked his access and escorted him from the building, but had to keep paying him for the three months.

Re:Give 2 months notice if leaving (1)

emandems (1784294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288796)

I assume this was not in the US, or at least not a 'typical' at-will state in the US?

In other news (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288398)

Bosses admit that they expect employees to do more work for the same amount of pay.

How much when NOT fired? (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288404)

These numbers are really only relevant if we also know how many people steal when: * Leaving the company voluntarily. * Leaving the company voluntarily as asked (by new employer) to take information. * Not leaving at all. * Not leaving at all and offered compensation by a 3rd party to take the data.

we had a guy do that (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288452)

we issue expensive highly industry specific reports behind a login on our website

i did an audit after some unusual login activity, and noticed a completely unrelated transgression: we boneheadedly forgot to remove an ex-employee's login, and he was systematically downloading all of these reports. tying the geolocated ip address of his login with the access times in the web log, we could see he used his new employer's computer and his home computer to go through folder after folder, and download thousands of documents, one after the other. i could tell he was actually doing this manually rather than some screen scraper, because the download times were too variable, and included obvious 15 minute coffee breaks. took him days

we did some snooping of our own, and it turns out he got a job in journalism, and was passing these reports off as his own research. so we contacted his new employer, and disclosed the plagiarism. i think he's an ex-journalist now

Fruit of our loins. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288476)

"Employees openly admit they would take company data, including customer data and product plans, when leaving a job. In response to a recent survey, 49% of US workers and 52% of British workers admitted they would take some form of company property with them when leaving a position: 29% (US) and 23% (UK) would take customer data, including contact information; 23% (US) and 22% (UK) would take electronic files; 15% (US) and 17% (UK) would take product information, including designs and plans; and 13% (US) and 22% (UK) would take small office supplies."

I wonder if this is the children of the digital generation that sees nothing wrong with illegal copyright infringement? Glad to see they grew up and became trustworthy adults.

No loyalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288512)

This should come as no surprise. Gone are the days of loyalty and working for one company till you die. What's it been replaced with? Companies that cut you at the drop of a hat while executives collect huge bonuses for "restructuring prowess". I can't say I blame employees for acting cut-throat or unethically.

Asking US/UK workers and not asking India/Chinese? (3, Interesting)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288532)

If I were a tech company owner I'd worry more about off-shored employees taking code/secrets with them. I know a contractor company that is now developing a competing product to something our vendor hired them to write in the first place. So our vendor basically paid them to develop the skills and domain knowledge they would need to build this thing, got a so-so quality product from them, and soon they will have a new competitor. Note: I don't know any of the legal issues involved. Seems like there should have been a non-compete clause in there somewhere, but either it's being ignored or it was never there in the first place.

Rotten or Adversarial? (3, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288534)

Does this imply that people are rotten, or that the relationship between employer and employee is adversarial?

Maybe things have changed, or maybe I am coming to realize the reality that has always been. My perception is that there used to be a non-adversarial relationship between employer and employee. I think that has changed. I think you see it in every annual review, which resembles little so much as pulling teeth. The middle manager is pitted against the employee by the upper management basing the middle manager's compensation on how little he can get the employees to stick around for.

Smaller businesses have been getting driven out by the efficiencies-of-scale corps, so there are fewer and fewer jobs where the top guy is the one who talks directly to employees. I would wager it is easier to tell a middle manager to be adversarial than it is to be adversarial yourself. (hmm, tangent; which also hints at one of the natural forces of wealth concentration)

Anyway -- are people rotten, or are they responding to what I see as a shift in corporate culture? Corporate culture is bringing adversarial behavior within its walls. Perhaps it is only natural for that training to affect people's behavioral patterns. Or at least their sense of loyalty.

Re:Rotten or Adversarial? (1)

emandems (1784294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288894)

Does this imply that people are rotten, or that the relationship between employer and employee is adversarial?

I'd describe my current situation as adversarial, yes, and based on what I discuss with friends, in IT and not, this is not unique. However, as for a smaller environment being better, I'd say that's not an influence on the office atmosphere. 1000 employees or 10, the office can be cooperative or adversarial.

I bet I know why IT people feel this way (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288626)

It's because companies frequently let their normal employees treat IT staff in ways that are fireable offenses if done to the rest of the company. Call them up, foaming at the mouth screaming because the email server is down, for example. Or God forbid that an in-house developer has a few bugs in their app.

My wife is an in-house developer at a large company. I can't even begin to count the number of times she and her group have been savagely attacked by users who are so fucking stupid that they literally freeze up if a single new button appears in the UI.

The dirty little trend I've noticed is that 9 times out of 10, the people who attack her are non-technical female employees. Most men don't dare attack a female developer at that level, especially not one who is competent (the second worst fury, aside from a scorned woman, is HR coming to the aid of a woman like that against a bombastic man). Male developers also often don't hesitate to humiliate users who treat them like that.

Amateurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288640)

Part of my weekly routine is to make an offsite backup of all important data, mine or otherwise.
If I am walked out the door I still have everything.

Does this surprise anyone? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288688)

If a business treats its employees as human beings with respect, it will (generally) get respect in return.

If a business shows its employees that they are worthless, replaceable drones who may be dumped at any convenient time, then no, the business won't get any courtesy or respect in return.

It's not the sort of thing that shows up on a goddamn balance sheet, and I'm sick of so many larger firms moving ever more toward 'management by accountant' than actually making human decisions based on the long range view of the value of people.

Probably it's been a complaint forever, but it seems that decisions are based more and more on the bottom line THIS year, THIS quarter, THIS month. Those are decisions that are invariably hurtful to employees, generally at lower staff levels.

Much of it is market driven - I've worked for my company for 18 years, and I saw it coming when we went public 7 or 8 years ago. What do we get out of this, aside from capital (which we didn't need) and a giant quiet bump to our top execs' compensation (since then they would have stock options, etc.)? In exchange, we whore our business for the share price, making decisions that can only be understood as logical if one genuinely believes there will BE NO TOMORROW. Incomprehensible.

Want your employees to treat your data with confidentiality and respect? Then treat the PEOPLE with respect, pay them reasonably well, and above all treat them like humans. Then, if they ultimately depart, they may make the moral decision that you've treated them fairly and that while they could screw you, they are at least slightly more likely not to.

Breaking news! Heads are attached! (2, Insightful)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288710)

How could you leave a company and not take a lot of the data with you? ???

I wouldn't steal Data (5, Funny)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288722)

He's too boring. I might steal Lore, though.

Or maybe Tasha Yar. MmMmmMmMMmmmmmm Tasha Yar.... auuruhghglglglgllll

The reason... (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288770)

At a guess, I'd say the reason employees might take customer data is to maintain relations with their old customers if they go freelance. I doubt most people would take personal customer info to do evil. Sure, there's no doubt some would sell it to spam.com, but I don't think they are the majority.

Over 10 different jobs and 20 years ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288834)

Over 10 different jobs and 20 years ...

I've taken everything that I worked on only once; that was all the software, source code, code libraries, tools, everything needed to build the software client, server and data server for all 6 platforms that we built and supported. I took it for nostalgic reasons, but planned to use some of the tools on "home" projects. Never did, but I have looked at the code 3 times in the last 12 years since leaving that job. It wasn't too useful.

I also took libraries and code from another job - Visix Galaxy rocked - for about 7 platforms (Win32, Solaris, Alpha, Mac, HP-UX, SGI, and Solaris-x86), but my home x86 machine wasn't powerful enough to run it. Now, I'd just use Qt to accomplish the same things. Never used it and Visix died once Java was released and became stable around 1996.

Other jobs were so specialized that taking anything would have been pointless. I do wish I could get a copy of some nose wheel steering code that I wrote in 1990, however. It would be fun to look at, but completely useless to have since there's no chance I'd have the hardware or even a simulator to run it.

I did have a job that was 2 years of completely wasted time. While the company thought I did a great job, I had nothing - ZERO - to prove that. I had ZERO deliverables and just attended meetings and sent emails to people all over the company on architecture and security decisions. I did get 1 thing implemented, but it was removed less than a month after I left - deemed to difficult for end users. That company was violating so many server software licenses it wasn't funny. They were fully compliant on desktops and audited those all the time. It was a publishing company. You'd think that THEY would understand copyright infringement, right? Anyway, I took nothing from that job and consider it a waste of 2 years of my life - at least the pay was good (2x my prior salary).

At the last job, the company was extremely good at IT Governance and I wish that I'd taken all their IT Policy and Security Policy documents, but I did not. The Security team really did a fantastic job of covering almost anything related to network, computer, device, mobile, wifi, cellular, physical access and auditing requirements. Don't know that I'd use it, but since getting to a new job and being responsible for "workable IT policies", those docs would be nice to have as a reference. My new IT policy document is only 10 pages and only talks about what end users must do. We make all end users, including the CEO, sign a contract that they will follow it and that ignorance is no excuse.

I don't expect to ever work at another company again in my life, so I think I'm done. At this point, stealing from the company is stealing from myself.

I hade to take the stapler... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33288838)

It was a good stapler... it was a red Swingline

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