HR Is Not Protecting Your Private Information

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-06-10 Print this article Print

That's right, Rockwell, Michael Jackson and the Geico "Money That You Could Be Saving": You do, in fact, always feel like someone is watching you and your private information at work.

You're not paranoid. Your fellow employees--to the tune of 35 percent--have admitted to ignoring security policies and looking at your salary information, your medical history and more, with some going so far as to even swipe the CEO's info and lots of sensitive corporate data, according to info from a Cyber-Ark Software survey.

From the article:

When IT professionals were asked what kind of data they would take with them if fired, the survey found a jump compared with a year ago in the number of respondents who said they would take proprietary data and information that is critical to maintaining competitive advantage and corporate security.

The survey found a sixfold increase in staff who would take financial reports or merger and acquisition plans, and a fourfold increase in those who would take CEO passwords and research and development plans.

It's obviously in the best interest of security companies to post articles and reports about how broken internal security is for corporations--helps them sell products, gain credibility and sound like experts (and they may be). But that doesn't necessarily discount the levels to which employees will go to snoop on each other, executives and company secrets.

From an employee-to-employee perspective, it's no easy thing to swallow that your colleagues are digging into your personal, confidential information--information protected by law--that has no business being invaded.

It speaks to the larger issue of privacy in a technological age that has a tendency to open private information, willingly and unwillingly. As Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kantor blogged recently in her post, Don't Read This, It's Private

I think personal privacy could become not just a problem but a business opportunity - a technology frontier. Clever innovators will find new ways to block access or screen contacts or make people invisible. Now that our pictures can be snapped by cell phones, someone will invent a way to beam the light back on that phone if you don't want to be in a photo. Suddenly privacy could become as cool to the kids as lack of it is now.

But the criminal acts going on in the workplace with your private information are more egregious compared with those affecting those who choose to make themselves and their information easily accessible in the always-connected, socially networked world we and our professional and not-so-professional personas play in online.

For private information kept on record at work, companies have some very real self-policing to do. |

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