5 workplace technologies that cause the most employee data breaches

Some 83% of US security professionals said employees have accidentally exposed sensitive customer information, according to an Egress survey.

By Macy Bayern

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The majority (83%) of security professionals said they believe employees have accidentally exposed sensitive customer or business data at their organization, according to an Egress report released on Thursday. Many of these accidental breaches happen because organizations fail to properly encrypt data before it's shared externally and internally, the report found.

By failing to encrypt data, organizations are at risk of non-compliance with data privacy regulations including GDPR, HIPAA, NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation 23 NYCRR 500, and the emerging California Privacy Act, (AB375), the report said. Some 79% of security professionals said their organization shares data internally without encryption.

The report identified the following five most common technologies that lead to accidental breaches by employees:

  1. External email services (Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.) (51%)

  2. Corporate email (46%)

  3. File sharing services (FTP sites, etc.) (40%)

  4. Collaboration Tools (Slack, Dropbox, etc.) (38%

  5. SMS / Messaging Apps (G-Chat, WhatsApp, etc.) (35%)

While the rate of accidental breaches is alarming, new data regulations are changing how information is shared. After major data regulations were enforced, some 59% of respondents said they implemented new security policies, 54% invested in new security technologies, and 52% invested in regular employee training, the report found.

"The explosive growth of unstructured data in email, messaging apps and collaboration platforms has made it easier than ever for employees to share data beyond traditional security protections - combine this with the growing cultural need to share everything immediately, and organizations are facing the perfect storm for an accidental breach," said Mark Bower, Egress Chief Revenue Officer and NA general manager, in a press release. "What really stands out in the survey though, is that despite onerous regulations being enacted, companies are still failing to encrypt data before enabling employees to share it."