03/11/2013 10:32 am ET Updated May 11, 2013

Do Most Employees Intend to Steal Company Info?

Not all information theft is intentional.

A large percentage of data theft occurs when an employee leaves the company with confidential data stored on personal devices -- not realizing the data is confidential, not realizing who owns the information, or truly not realizing it's stored there.

The trend toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work is rampant and contributes to this challenge. BYOD occurs when an employee takes a shiny new mobile device to work and uses it for personal and work-related tasks.

Small companies are especially susceptible because they don't have big budgets to buy new mobile devices for all workers. Consequently, employees bring their own.

A recent Symantec survey found that 62 percent of employees think it's okay to put corporate data on their personal devices and in online accounts. It also found that half of employees who left or lost their jobs in the last year kept confidential corporate data.

But it's all done in good faith, right? Having access to work-related information on a 24x7 basis helps get the job done, right? Well, maybe most of the time.

The survey also found that 40 percent of employees plan to use company information in a new job. Sometimes this is done maliciously and with competition at the heart of the practice. Sometimes the challenge is that employees don't always understand that intellectual property (IP) created at work by the employee doesn't usually belong to the person who created it. Many company employee contracts assign all IP to the company.

What does your company do?

Employers need to better inform employees about what are and are not acceptable practices in storing, keeping, and sharing data. Employers need to explain what "IP" is and to whom it belongs. Many employees are not malicious, just uninformed.

All it may take is one former employee sharing company secrets with a new employer to damage your company permanently.