20 per cent of employees in the UK have downloaded confidential or sensitive documents onto their personal devices with two-fifths (40 per cent) admitting they did not have any password protection or anti-virus installed onto this equipment.
New research by Protect Your Bubble, an insurance firm for personal devices, shows that one in five UK employees have downloaded confidential files onto a device such as their PC, tablet, smartphone or laptop.
The HR sector are worst for downloading sensitive company documents and files onto personal devices with 22 per cent engaging in this practice. Following this, IT and Telecoms and finance sectors both rank similarly at 21.4 per cent.
Age also plays a factor in how likely one is to download sensitive files. Three in 10 (30 per cent) of those aged under 24 admit downloading sensitive files onto personal devices within the last six months with half (50 per cent) lacking password protection and security software. For those aged above 45, this number fell to less than eight per cent.
This is a particular cause of concern for businesses as, between April and June 2020, there were 177,000 attempted security breaches – equating to one every 45 seconds.
Andy Chesterman, compliance director at Privacy Helper, a data protection consultancy, said:
Employees need to show common sense when handling personal data on behalf of the company whilst working from home.
If you’re using a personal laptop, make sure the latest security patches are installed to maximise its defences against viruses and hacking – consult your IT department if in doubt.
Make sure that all personal data is deleted from your personal laptop when you have finished with it – data being left on the machine unprotected could result in an avoidable data breach for the business.
Consider investing in VPN service which allows you to log onto the office network from home without exposing your precise location to potential hackers – this could be a lifesaver if your home WiFi network is less secure than the office IT network.
* Protect Your Bubble surveyed over 2,000 UK employees across a range of industries to find out how employees have experienced home working during the pandemic.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.