A third of companies believe that their information has been handed over to competitors, with most thinking that disgruntled ex-employees as the most likely source. 

The survey by Cyber-Ark found that 37 per cent of IT professionals surveyed cited ex-employees as the most likely source of an abuse of trust, while 28 per cent suspected ‘human error' as the next most likely cause, followed by falling victim to an external hack or loss of a mobile device/laptop, each at ten per cent.

The research also revealed that snooping is continuing to rise within organisations, with 41 per cent of respondents confessing to abusing administrative passwords to snoop on sensitive or confidential information – an increase from 33 per cent in both 2008 and 2009.

Despite the rise, organisations are trying to curb snooping and are installing stronger controls to prevent these incidents. Many (88 per cent) believe that use of privileged accounts should be monitored, however only 70 per cent of organisations actually attempt to do so – with one-third turning a blind eye to what is happening within their networks and therefore failing to meet regulatory and compliance requirements.

Adam Bosnian, Cyber-Ark's executive vice president of corporate development, said: “While we understand that human nature and the desire to snoop may never be something we can totally control, we should take heart that fewer are finding it easy to do so, demonstrating that there are increasingly effective controls available to better manage and monitor privileged access rights within organisations.

“It is the organisation's obligation to protect its sensitive information and intellectual property. Failing to do so, in our opinion, makes the company as bad as those who are abusing their privileged positions. Let's face it, you might as well sell the information to the highest bidder yourself – that way at least you'll have some control over who's got it.”