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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – March 10, 2021 – Veritas Technologies, a global leader in data protection, availability and insights, today revealed new research that highlights the dangers of mis-using instant messaging (IM) and business collaboration tools. 71% of office workers globally – including 68% in the US – admitted to sharing sensitive and business-critical company data using these tools, the survey found.
The Veritas Hidden Threat of Business Collaboration Report, which polled 12,500 office workers across ten countries, shows employees are exposing companies to risk by taking data out of the control of businesses that employ them. In the US, 58% of employees are saving their own copies of business information shared over IM, while 51% delete that information entirely. Either approach could leave companies open to significant fines if regulators ask to see a paper trail.
Sensitive data being shared by employees on these channels in the US includes client information (13%), details on HR issues (10%), contracts (10%), business plans (10%), and even COVID-19 test results (12%). Less than one-third of employees suggested they hadn’t shared anything that could be compromising. The research also reveals that, while employees are using collaboration tools to close deals, process orders and agree to pay raises, many believe there will be no formal record of the discussion or agreement. In fact, only 56% in the US believe employers are saving this information.
Ajay Bhatia, GM, Digital Compliance at Veritas Technologies, said: “For millions of us, our entire way of work has been reset since the start of 2020. Companies are rushing to bolster their data protection and discovery strategies to include the platforms where their business is actually being done.”
Increased use is compounding issues
The research shows this challenge is compounded by the amount of time employees spend using messaging and collaboration apps: time spent on tools such as Zoom and Teams has increased by 13% in the US since the start of the pandemic. This means employees are spending, on average, two and a half hours every day on these applications, with 27% of US employees spending more than half the working week on these tools.
A significant amount of business is now routinely conducted on these channels and employees are taking agreements as binding. For example, as a result of receiving information over messaging and collaboration tools, almost 24% of US employees have accepted and processed an order, 25% have accepted a reference for a job candidate, and 20% have accepted a signed version of a contract.
Sensitive data is being shared on these tools even though 39% of US employees have been reprimanded by bosses. These admonishments may have been in vain, however, as 75% of all US workers say they would continue to share this type of information in the future.
Bhatia said: “It is now clear that constraining employees to ‘approved’ methods of communication and collaboration tools isn’t effective. Instead, our message is simple: don't fight it - fix it.”
IM trusted nearly as much as e-mail
When asked which methods of communication provide the most reliable proof an agreement is binding, responses didn’t appear to be based on the businesses’ ability to capture the discussion as evidence:
Bhatia said: “Business data is now everywhere. Deals are being done, orders are being processed, and sensitive personnel information is being shared, all through video-conferencing and messaging platforms. It is now critical for companies to include this rapidly growing volume of data in their protection and compliance envelope. If they don't, the implications could be huge.”
The research also uncovered some interesting patterns that emerge from country-to-country comparisons:
Veritas recommends the following steps for businesses to regain control of data being shared over collaboration and messaging tools:
- NOTES -
Research conducted and statistics compiled for Veritas Technologies LLC by 3Gem. A total of 12,500 office workers who used communications channels as part of their job were interviewed between 23 November – 8 December 2020 in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, United Kingdom and the United States.
Veritas Technologies is a global leader in data protection, availability and insights. Over 80,000 customers—including 87 percent of the Fortune Global 500—rely on us to abstract IT complexity and simplify data management. The Veritas Enterprise Data Services Platform automates the protection and orchestrates the recovery of data everywhere it lives, ensures 24/7 availability of business-critical applications, and provides enterprises with the insights they need to comply with evolving data regulations. With a reputation for reliability at scale and a deployment model to fit any need, the Veritas Enterprise Data Services Platform supports more than 800 different data sources, over 100 different operating systems, more than 1,400 storage targets, and more than 60 different cloud platforms. Learn more at www.veritas.com. Follow us on Twitter at @veritastechllc.
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