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“It wasn’t me”: Cover-up culture leading to accidental information loss

As remote working remains the norm during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, research reveals that UK office workers are accidentally deleting vital business information from shared, cloud-based applications such as Office 365 or Google Drive. And many are opting to keep quiet rather than owning up to their mistakes.

The research from Veritas Technologies, which interviewed 2,000 UK office workers, found that employees in Derby are the masters of workplace cover-ups with more than a third (nearly three times the national average) confessing they didn’t own up after accidentally deleting business information on shared applications.

And it’s a nationwide problem. Of those who simply keep quiet when they delete data or documents the worst offenders are office workers in the following locations:

  1. Derby – 36%
  2. Gloucester – 33%
  3. Nottingham – 26%
  4. Coventry – 22%
  5. St Albans – 22%
  6. Leeds – 21%
  7. York – 20%
  8. Sunderland – 20%.
  9. Warrington – 20%
  10. Durham – 18%

Across the country, employees are losing 34 documents a year with nearly half (47%) saying they had not been able to get deleted items back.

Indeed, while a third (36%) of office workers say they‘re ashamed to own up to their mistakes, 43% confess that they had lied to cover up what they’ve done.  Some keep quiet because they think they can get away with it – 14% said they didn’t think anyone would notice and 11% believed no one would know it was them.

Worryingly, the same culture of silence is in play when it comes to putting businesses at risk of cyberattacks such as ransomware. More than half of employees (55%) said they had clicked on a link, not knowing whether it was genuine. And, more than two in five (45%) wouldn’t immediately let their IT team know they had potentially introduced a threat such as ransomware into their organisation.

Barry Cashman, regional vice-president for UK and Ireland at Veritas Technologies said: “When data is lost or held hostage by hackers as a result of employee action there’s only a short window of opportunity where remedial action can be taken. If your workplace culture is one where people try to cover up mistakes or pretend they never happened, your business will always be on the back foot when it comes to restoring the data or limiting the impact of a ransomware attack.

“Businesses need to foster a culture of confessions not cover-ups so that employees are empowered to come forward when mistakes have been made. Blaming and shaming people won’t bring your files back, but fast action and backups of your data will.”