Press release: 11 July 2012

Media contact: c [email protected] , 07900 582994

More than half of employees “willing to sabotage their company”

  • More than half of all employees are prepared to sabotage the company they work for as an act of revenge, according to the survey by Ascentor.
  • Not being paid enough, a lack of respect from the boss, being passed over for promotion or being made redundant were given as the main motives.
  • And a bitter seven per cent of the workforce confessed they already HAD thrown a spanner in the works — in some cases literally — to get their own back.

The nationwide survey by OnePoll on behalf of Ascentor, the information risk management specialists, revealed that more than half (57 per cent) of employees are willing to compromise company information in an act of sabotage.

As a motive, not being paid enough (27 per cent) is only marginally ahead of lack of respect from their employer/a personality clash, which one in four people selected (25 per cent).

More than a fifth of people (21 per cent) admitted they would be prepared to compromise their company if they missed out on a promotion. At 15 per cent, redundancy is the lowest motivation for sabotage.

Women were found to be more loyal than men, with nearly half (46 per cent) of women saying they wouldn’t compromise their company, compared to 40 per cent of men. Sending information to rivals (25 per cent) and deleting or moving valuable files/information (22 per cent) is the most popular means of sabotage for men. Women, however, are more likely to spread malicious gossip (21 per cent) than use technical means.

The survey of 1,000 employees across the UK reveals that seven per cent of people have already wilfully compromised their company.

Dave James, managing director at Ascentor, said:

“This figure of seven per cent is alarming. There are 29.1million people in the UK workforce, which could equate to more than two million people who have already deliberately sabotaged a business. You might not even know about it yet. And we’re not just talking about swapping the gherkin for the mayo jar. We’re talking about tampering with one of your most important assets – your business information. The consequences of this sort of information sabotage are frightening, with some of the people we surveyed employed in high impact jobs like finance (10 per cent), computing, electronics and telecoms (11 per cent), and government/public sector jobs (seven per cent).”

“One upset worker is capable of wreaking havoc on the entire company. Not just through their own direct actions, but by engaging in activities that would leave the company open to cyber based attack. This can have massive repercussions but in most cases the guilty party is never identified unless she – or more likely he– boasts about it.”

Methods of sabotage revealed in the survey included one employee who sabotaged the company’s patent application worth millions in revenue by sending previous artwork to the Intellectual Property Office. Another manipulated a tender process by doctoring quotations from contractors.

The survey also indicated that the construction industry suffers the brunt of company sabotage, with more than three out of four (78 per cent) of employees saying they would compromise their business – especially if they felt they’d missed out on a promotion (35 per cent) or weren’t paid enough (also 35 per cent). Teachers and lecturers came top of the class, with only 31 per cent willing to compromise the education sector.

People in the South East were revealed to be the least likely to compromise their company, with the lowest regional figure of 38 per cent saying they would. This compares to the West Midlands, where nearly three out of four employees – a staggering 74 per cent – admitted they would compromise the company they worked for.

In the East Midlands, an alarming 30 per cent of the workforce admitted to having already deliberately sabotaged their company – that’s 23 per cent higher than the national average of seven.

The survey also revealed that young adults aged 18-25, are 12 per cent more likely to sabotage their workplace than the 55+ age group. They are also more than three times likely to do it due to poor pay (38 per cent) compared to their elders (17 per cent).
These findings highlight a potential hole in the information security strategy of companies up and down the land, where the focus on cyber threats can often lead to internal threats being overlooked. Whilst protecting your company from a faceless hacker is important; thinking about that disgruntled employee may be just as, if not more, important to your information security.

For an introduction to the key areas of information risk from every angle of your business, download Ascentor’s free guide, ” The Board’s Guide to Information Risk “, at


Tags: survey, information risk, company sabotage

About Ascentor

Ascentor is an independent information risk management consultancy. It provides advice to business, government and the public sector. Clients include BT, Atkins Global, BSI, Southampton Football Club and Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) MoD.

Formed in 2004, the company is based in Gloucester, UK.

Contact us

Your cyber security challenges and our pragmatic approach - we could be the perfect fit. Contact the team at Ascentor for an informal chat.