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Employee holiday shopping habits could threaten data security

Online shopping at work could be putting the data of many companies at risk, according to a new report.
Online shopping at work could be putting the data of many companies at risk, according to a new report.

With the holiday shopping season quickly coming to an end, business owners may find that their employees are taking more time out of their scheduled work day not to complete company tasks, but to engage in last-minute gift buying. For instance, a recent study by Ipswitch Inc.'s network management division found that more than 40 percent of employees are spending 30 minutes or more a day conducting holiday shopping during the workday. Some workers are even spending as much as two hours tending to their shopping lists.

"Online shopping is no longer just being done after work hours and it appears that liberties are being taken, with many staff spending up to two hours a day shopping online during work hours," Ennio Carboni, president of the network management division, said in a press release.

While this habit can reduce productivity in the office, it can also put the company's networks and data at risk. For instance, some shoppers may accidentally acquire malware or spyware from fraudulent websites, which in turn could cause wider system problems and be costly to fix.

In rare instances, employees may conduct their transaction with a fraudulent company and compromise business data. This in turn could cause vital business documents and information to be lost. For example, a recently published study by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse found that some major breaches could also affect customers, potentially causing them to fall victim to credit fraud and identity theft.

To safeguard against this prospect, business owners should look to enhance their disaster recovery planning during the coming year. By being prepared for data issues year round, owners can ensure they are able to adapt to not only the changing habits of hackers, but also their employees.