Security Experts:

Security Challenged by Users Who Break Rules

Two new surveys separately shine a light on a security issue technology can't easily patch – users who don't follow the rules. 

According to findings by security vendor BeyondTrust, 28 percent of employees admitted putting their digital hands on data not relevant to their job. The survey fielded responses from 265 IT decision makers, including security managers and network and systems engineers across a number of industries.

According to the findings, nearly one-quarter identified financial reports as the data accessed. Of particular interest to those employees were salary details, HR data and personnel documents. For the most part (80 percent), respondents felt that it was at least "somewhat likely" that access sensitive or confidential out of simple curiosity.

"Allowing any employee unfettered access to non-essential company data is both unnecessary and dangerous and should be an issue that is resolved quickly," said Brad Hibbert, EVP of product strategy at BeyondTrust, in a statement.

This type of questionable behavior by users can also be seen when it comes to the bring-your-own device trend. In a survey of 3,200 mobile device owners between the ages of 21 to 32 working full-time, Fortinet discovered that 51 percent stated they would contravene any policy in place banning the use of personal devices at work or for work purposes. The survey also found that 14 percent of the respondents would not tell an employer if a personal device they used for work became compromised.

Besides getting around BYOD policies, many participants also had a similar attitude towards using the cloud. Thirty-six percent of respondents using their own personal cloud storage like DropBox accounts for work purposes said they would break any rules brought in to stop them – something with problematic implications potentially because 33 percent of those that use cloud storage services store customer data there, while 22 percent store critical private documents like contracts and business plans.

"It’s worrying to see policy contravention so high and so sharply on the rise, as well as the high instances of Generation Y users being victims of cybercrime," said John Maddison, vice president of marketing for Fortinet, in a statement. "On the positive side, however, 88 percent of the respondents accept that they have an obligation to understand the security risks posed by using their own devices. Educating employees on the threat landscape and its possible impact is another key aspect for ensuring an organization’s IT security."