Data theft overtakes physical losses

Brooke Masters and Joseph Menn:

Reported thefts of information and electronic data have risen by half in the past year and for the first time have surpassed physical property losses as the biggest crime problem for global companies, the Kroll annual global fraud survey has found.

More than 27 per cent of 801 companies surveyed reported data losses, up from 18 per cent last year, while the share of companies reporting physical theft fell slightly from 28 per cent in 2009. Management conflict of interest rose slightly from 19 to 20 per cent.

“This is a reflection of the changing nature of the economy. More and more of the value of a company is intangible rather than things. Firms don’t make widgets. They make ideas,” said Richard Plansky, who heads the risk consultancy’s New York office.