Nearly three-quarters of recruitment consultants say they would be prepared to steal candidate and client data from their employer when moving jobs.
And almost two thirds said they knew someone in the industry who had attempted to extract and keep data when leaving their companies.
The admissions come despite the fact that the theft of data from an employer is illegal and the Information Commissioner’s Office has successfully prosecuted employees in the recruitment sector for such thefts in the past.
IT security experts warned the survey, commissioned by Atlas Cloud and the first to ask recruitment consultants directly about their willingness to take client data, showed the industry was “in the midst of a data theft pandemic” and urgent action was needed.
If extrapolated across the entire recruitment industry – which employs 110,000 people and is worth £35.9 billion a year, the survey suggests as many as 79,200 consultants would be willing to attempt data theft after moving roles.
Worryingly for employers, almost two-thirds said they believed it would be “very easy” or “easy” to extract and keep the data.
Atlas Cloud CEO Pete Watson said: “This research reveals that recruitment agencies’ worst fears are true. We have been working with recruitment firms for over a decade, and the data theft threat has always been inherent but lacking an evidence base to determine the size and scale of the problem. That’s why we decided to do something about it by launching the first-ever study on data theft in the industry.
“Recruitment consultants know how valuable data is. Recruitment agencies know how valuable data is – and now they know that their staff are willing to risk stealing it, despite contractual and legal restraints that are in place as standard. So why isn’t more being done to protect this most important asset? Agencies need to put barriers in place as soon as possible.”
David Blair, CEO at one of the company’s clients, executive search firm BlairWest, said: “This study is the first to confirm what some of us in the recruitment industry have long suspected: data theft is a huge problem. In fact, the statistics show it’s a much bigger problem than some might have anticipated.
The full findings of this survey can be found here