3 in 5 workers in Singapore share sensitive company data thru IM, Zoom

Close to two-thirds (64%) of Singapore office worker employees have admitted to sharing sensitive and business-critical company data using instant messaging (IM) and business collaboration tools, a survey done by Veritas Technologies shows.

The Veritas Hidden Threat of Business Collaboration Report, which polled 12,500 office workers across 10 countries, including 500 from Singapore, shows employees are taking data out of the control of the businesses that employ them and exposing companies to risk. 

More than half (54%) are saving their own copies of the information they share over IM, while 53% of knowledge workers delete it 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 includes client information (15%), details on HR issues (13%), contracts (13%), business plans (12%), and even COVID-19 test results (10%), with only 36% employees suggesting that 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 pay raises, many are doing this despite believing that there will be no formal record of the discussion or agreement. Only 52% thought that the businesses they worked for were saving this information. 

“To minimise work disruptions and keep up with the new work model, companies are rushing to bolster their data protection and discovery strategies to include the platforms where their business is actually being done,” said Andy Ng, VP of Veritas Technologies.

The research shows that a significant amount of business is now being conducted as routine on channels such as Zoom and Teams, and employees are taking agreements as binding. 

For example, as a result of receiving information over messaging and collaboration tools, 24% of employees have accepted and processed an order, 20% have accepted a reference for a job candidate and 18% have accepted a signed version of a contract. 

Veritas recommends the following steps for businesses that want to regain control of data being shared over messaging and collaboration tools.

Firms should standardise on a set of collaboration and messaging tools that meet the needs of the business – this will limit the sprawl. Also, create a policy for information sharing as this will help control the sharing of sensitive information.

Companies also need to train all employees on the policies and tools that are being deployed. this will help to reduce accidental policy breaches.

Further, incorporate the data sets from collaboration and messaging tools into the businesses’ data management strategy using eDiscovery and SaaS data backup solutions. This will empower users to make the most of the tools without putting the business at risk.