Press release

95% of IT Leaders Say That Client and Company Data is at Risk on Email, Research by Egress Reveals

Sponsored by Businesswire

The Egress Data Loss Prevention Report 2021 has revealed that 95% of IT leaders say that client and company data is at risk on email. Additionally, an overwhelming 83% of organizations have suffered data breaches via this channel in the last 12 months. Human error was at the root of nearly one-quarter of incidents, with 24% caused by an employee sharing data in error – for example, sending an email containing sensitive data to the wrong recipient or attaching the wrong file.

The study, independently conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Egress, interviewed 500 IT leaders and 3,000 remote-working employees in the US and UK across vertical sectors including financial services, healthcare and legal.

Key insights include:

  • 95% of IT leaders believe that client and company data is at risk on email
  • Data is most at risk on email, with 83% of organizations experiencing email data breaches
  • Almost one-quarter (24%) of email data breach incidents were caused by an employee sharing data in error
  • 42% of IT leaders say that half of all incidents won’t be detected by their static DLP tools
  • 79% of IT leaders reported that they have deployed static email DLP solutions. However, that same amount reported experiencing difficulties resulting from their use
  • 85% of employees are sending more emails due to remote working, heightening the risk of an email data breach
  • 59% of IT leaders have reported an increase in email data leaks since implementing remote working as a result of the pandemic
  • 73% of employees feel worse due to the pandemic, leading to increased likelihood of mistakes and security incidents

The hidden cost of remote working

Remote working has left employees highly reliant on email, particularly for sharing sensitive data. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 85% of employees reported sending more emails, increasing the surface area for risk when it comes to an outbound email data breach.

The research also found that 60% of employees are working in environments where distractions are commonplace, such as a shared home offices and communal spaces. In addition to concerns around confidentiality, the distractions faced by employees in these settings leads to an environment of heightened risk of accidental data loss.

The risk is compounded by stress and tiredness – and the research revealed that 73% of employees reported that they feel worse because of the pandemic. The blurring of work and home life has led to many employees working longer hours, in distracting environments, with both factors exacerbating the risk of an incident. 73% of employees surveyed revealed that they access work emails outside of their contracted working hours, and almost one-quarter of employees (24%) reporting that they are normally doing something else at the same time.

It’s no surprise then that 59% of IT leaders acknowledged that they have seen an increase in data leakage via email since employees started working remotely due to the pandemic.

Organizations rely on legacy email DLP technology – and it’s failing them

To mitigate this risk, 79% of IT leaders state that they have deployed static email DLP solutions. However, their effectiveness was found to be limited, with 42% of IT leader respondents saying that half of all incidents won’t be detected by the DLP tools they have in place.

Egress CEO Tony Pepper comments, “It’s clear to see that legacy DLP tools are no longer fit for purpose; they’re difficult to use and because they can’t take people’s behavior into consideration, they’re limited in their ability to mitigate the rising tide of email data breaches in this new world of remote working. Employees continue to work in challenging environments, and the lines between work and home life have been blurred. All of this contributes to the likelihood that a costly mistake might be made. Organizations must be aware of the new environment of risk and utilize advances in machine learning to give employees a safety net that can detect when they’re about to cause a data breach and prevent these incidents before they happen.”


Egress’ 2021 DLP Report was conducted by independent organization Arlington Research among 500 IT leaders and 3000 remote-working employees in the financial services, legal and healthcare sectors within the UK and the US.

About Egress

Our mission is to eliminate the greatest risk to every business – the insider threat. To achieve this Egress has built the world’s only Human Layer Security platform that empowers your people to remain secure while being highly productive.

Using patented contextual machine learning, Egress is trusted by the world’s biggest brands to prevent human error and protect against malicious or reckless behaviour on email without any administrative overhead. Funded by FTV Capital and Albion VC, Egress is headquartered in London with offices in Toronto and Boston.