Stop insider data thieves: Forget profiling, keep an eye on the grumps

Study: Good management can be the best form of counter-espionage


"If you look at lethal events in the workplace – events in which one employee kills one or more others – about 85 percent are post-termination. It's often the thing that pushes someone over the edge," according to Stock, whose specialty as a psychologist for the State of Michigan was examining those accused of murders and sex crimes. He has also worked as a hostage negotiator and instructor for the FBI, specialist in the psychology and motivations of terrorists and adviser to the U.S. Secret Service on potential threats to the U.S. President.

Entitled and disgruntled: profile of the data thief

The danger in giving IT managers and HR departments profiles and guidelines to help identify which employees pose the greatest risk of data theft is that they use only the most obvious data points: race, gender, age, likeability, productivity – all of which could be factors in a particular decision but are not decisive factors for the employee or infallible indicators for managers.

"Mistakes or just insensitivity in the way organizations behave contributes a lot to developing what we call an Entitled/Disgruntled Thief [personality type]," Shaw said. "These are people who might have helped develop the IP, or played a role in developing it, and feel somewhat proprietary about it.

"People at risk of developing into the profile of the Entitled/Disgruntled Thief may feel they're not being treated fairly, not appreciated, don't get the bounty they think they're entitled to or the bigger office, stock options, etc.," Shaw said. "That starts them down the pathway toward psychological justification mechanisms – the excuses they give themselves to excuse the bad behavior. "

"The term for that outlook is 'hostile attribution bias,'" Stock said. "When bad things happen to you, since you already know you're not causing it, the organization must be messing with you. If they're messing with you, then you're going to mess with them. That's how a lot of the motivation develops."

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Reuters: Jim Young

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