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Dell released its End-User Security Survey on enterprise data security recently and the results were not encouraging. Dell found that not only are many employees willing to share confidential information, they often take sensitive information with them when they leave their organizations.

The numbers are sobering. Of the 2,608 global professionals that Dell surveyed, 72 percent said they’re willing to share sensitive, confidential, or regulated information. The study covered users who work at organizations employing 250 or more people.

This willingness on the part of employees to play fast and loose with company data security policies doesn’t stem from some rebellious impulse, but rather from a desire to be more productive at their jobs, according to Dell. The survey results suggest that most employees find themselves struggling to balance two conflicting requirements: greater job efficiency and maintaining data security.

In some instances, employees are just ignorant about their companies’ security protocols and procedures. But even in cases where staff members had been properly educated, the Dell survey found that many employees still did not fully accept the need for those protocols as explained to them. In fact, 76 percent of workers said their employers were prioritizing security over productivity with overly strict security requirements.

“When security becomes a case-by-case judgment call being made by the individual employee, there is no consistency or efficacy,” said Brett Hansen, vice president of Endpoint Data Security and Management at Dell, in a statement. “These findings suggest employees need to be better educated about data security best practices, and companies must put procedures in place that focus first and foremost on securing data while maintaining productivity.”

Of the 72 percent of employees who said they’re willing to share confidential company information, 43 percent said they would do so if requested to by management. Another 37 percent said they would share such information with someone authorized to receive it, while 23 percent said they would share information if they determined that the risk to the company was low and the benefit of sharing the information very high.

Meanwhile, 22 percent said they would do so if they thought sharing the information would help them do their jobs more efficiently, while 13 percent said they would share company information if they thought it would help the recipients do their jobs more efficiently.
Also, 45 percent of respondents admitted to engaging in unsafe data sharing practices throughout the workday. These behaviors include connecting to public Wi-Fi to access confidential information (46 percent), using personal email accounts for work (49 percent), or losing a company-issued device (17 percent).

Thirty-five percent said that it’s common to take sensitive information with them when they leave their companies, while a majority (56 percent) store sensitive information on cloud-sharing platforms such as Dropbox or iCloud. Only three percent said that their actions were motivated by malicious intent.