Number of confidential data theft cases up 25% in a year
The number of High Court cases involving the theft of confidential data has increased by 25% in a year, up from 40 in 2015 to 50 in 2016.
An increase in staff turnover could be a key driver as employees may take confidential data, such as client databases or key financial information, with them when they leave in order to give a competitive advantage to their new employer or a new company they are setting up.
Employees now have easier access to confidential data remotely via a range of devices such as smartphones and online cloud storage platforms, making them feel more confident about taking confidential data without arousing suspicion.
Businesses in many industries are potentially vulnerable to data theft, but some are especially at risk. For example, employees stealing proprietary algorithms is a critical threat in the technology or financial services sectors, while theft of client databases is a major danger in areas which are heavily reliant on client relationships such as recruitment or estate agents.
Felix Dodd, Senior Solicitor, says: “Data is becoming more and more business-critical – and easier and easier for staff to siphon off when they move on. Theft of confidential data has become such a widespread concern for firms in the City that many of them ban their employees from sending work emails to their personal accounts, and some now even disable some functions on their employees’ smartphones. Bigger businesses should have the systems in place to be able to monitor activity like this effectively, but a lot of smaller businesses might not have the budget or skills to track what their employees are doing with sensitive data.”
Recent High Court cases include:
- In February 2017, Marathon Asset Management LLP, an investment management business won a case against two former employees who had copied and retained files in breach of their contracts of employment.
- In July 2017, aviation cleaning company OCS Group UK claimed that its employee, Mr Dadi, had sent confidential information to his personal email address. Mr Dadi was subsequently jailed for breaching a court order which required him to keep secret certain details relating to his former employer.
If you would like further information on this topic, please get in touch with Felix Dodd.