New research from IT services company Atlas Cloud has revealed that more than four-fifths (87 per cent) of Britain’s recruitment consultants think it would be easy to take data from their employers when moving jobs.
The global survey of 1,000 recruitment consultants revealed that British recruitment consultants are the most likely to think taking candidate or client data with them when moving jobs would be either “easy” (50 per cent) or “very easy” (37 per cent).
They were followed by US-based recruitment consultants, where almost two-thirds of whom overall thought it would be easy to take data (63 per cent), and South African recruitment consultants (59 per cent).
The survey findings show that recruitment consultants globally are aware of the importance of data. More than two thirds of recruitment consultants overall said that data was an important asset to recruitment firms (70 per cent), with more than a third believing it to be the most important asset to consultants overall (38 per cent).
Recruitment consultants in the US were the most likely to say that data is their most important asset (50 per cent), followed by British recruiters (42 per cent). These admissions come despite the fact that the theft of data from an employer is illegal and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has successfully prosecuted employees in the recruitment sector for stealing personal data from employers with a view to setting up a competing business.
The Information Commissioners Office has successfully prosecuted recruitment consultants for trying to steal data. In 2017 Daniel Short was prosecuted after an ICO investigation found that he stole the details of 272 individuals when he left the recruitment company he was working for, VetPro Recruitment, to set up his own similar company called VetSelect.
IT security experts warn the survey shows urgent action is needed to protect against potential data theft.
Recruitment firms can protect their data with solutions such as hosted desktops, which allow employees to easily and securely access all of their emails, files, and applications from anywhere, on any device. As all data is stored and accessed via the hosting environment, rather than locally on the device, employers have the peace of mind that employees can not directly download the valuable client and candidate information.
“This research reveals that British recruitment consultants believe accessing valuable data and taking it to a different organisation would be an easy undertaking,” said Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud. “They may not be aware, but this act would technically be data theft and is a real threat to recruitment agencies who rely on their client and candidate data to drive revenue.
“We have been working with recruitment firms for over a decade, and I previously worked as a recruitment consultant,” he added. “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. Recruitment agencies are currently relying on the goodwill of recruiters not to commit data theft, but is that enough?
“That is where IT is the most effective solution and can play a huge part in solving this problem,” said Watson, “there are technological solutions that make it almost impossible for employees to steal data, without hindering the employee experience of recruitment consultants who need to access and use the data for their jobs and stay productive to win the war for talent.”
The survey findings have led to a word of caution from corporate financier Carl Swansbury, partner and head of corporate finance at Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance: “Recruitment is an incredibly competitive industry and business owners need to consider the impact of this research on their business,” he said. “Candidate and client data is a very valuable asset and any recruitment business that doesn’t take steps to protect against employees taking that data with them when they leave, will find that the business itself is losing value. This will negatively impact on the growth of recruitment businesses, which is why it is imperative that steps are taken to protect data.”