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Employee Data Breaches – Lessons Learned From The Mercedes F1 Team Data Theft Scandal

by | Jan 28, 2016 | Other | 0 comments

With budgets of €450 million a year upwards a year upwards, F1 is one of the world’s most competitive and secretive sports – so how did one employee manage to steal top-secret data? When Benjamin Hoyle decided to quit his role at Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team to move to arch-rivals Ferrari, he decided to take more than just his knowledge of engineering along with him, an unfortunate but common practice. Its alleged he searched, downloaded and saved classified data to his laptop with the intent to pass it on to Ferrari. Mercedes have dominated Formula 1 since a massive change in engines was introduced in 2014, winning consecutive Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championships. Their advantage is largely believed to come from a superior engine – or Power Unit as it is now called in F1 – which gives them significantly more power than any other engine manufacturer currently in the sport. It’s not hard to see why access to such data would be so valuable to rival teams.

How He Was Caught

After it was discovered Hoyle would be leaving for rivals Ferrari, he was immediately assigned non-F1 related projects. He was given a new laptop wiped of all data as well as access to all F1 related data denied – he was even denied access to certain areas of the team’s building. What sounds like pretty standard procedure, it turns out it was not enough. After suspicions arose, Mercedes hired expert forensic computer analysts to track just when, where and what he accessed. Here’s what his alleged actions were:

  • Removed hardcopy documents containing confidential F1 information.
  • Searched for and saved on a laptop confidential F1 information.
  • Saved files related to the performance of Mercedes’s F1 engines, along with encrypted raw data files containing very detailed data about engine performance.
  • Uploaded a confidential F1 document to an external website.
  • Took “anti-forensic steps to conceal the fact he had saved”.

How Employee Monitoring Can Help Prevent Data Loss

Data theft by an employee not only means loss of confidential information, it can also lead to huge legal costs and lengthy investigations into data security. According to Security Intelligence’s research, data breach and theft of confidential information cost the companies who took part in their research $3.79 million over a two-year period. To help prevent data theft by employees within your business, you can make use of simple and easy to use employee monitoring software. With the best software, you can trace and record the following activities of your employees:

  • Track keystrokes
  • Take screenshots
  • Show who is accessing what websites and files

With employee monitoring software you’ll receive automatically collated and analysed data, meaning you can address theft before it’s too late. Does your business use employee monitoring software? Let us know in the comments section below!

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