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Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has informed television companies of a data breach after an ex-employee was found to have stolen information provided by the firms.

The incident, believed to be the biggest data breach in the regulator’s history, involves “potentially sensitive information” on the television companies, according to The Guardian.

Ofcom said the breach was caused by a former employee who downloaded as much as six years’ worth of third-party data before leaving for a new job at a major broadcaster.

According to reports, this information was then offered to the television firm, but rather than using it to gain a competitive advantage it informed the watchdog.

Ofcom said the incident was “a breach of the former employee’s statutory duty under the Communications Act and a breach of the contract with Ofcom”.

It said it takes data protection “extremely seriously” and has informed all parties involved of the incident, which involved “limited” disclosure and “has been contained”.

Employees’ actions – both malicious and careless – are an ongoing problem for cyber security teams trying to keep organisations’ data safe and secure.

A recent EY survey showed that breaches and malicious employees tampering with data are the most up-and-coming fraud risks for 83 per cent of executives in 2016.

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that three quarters of companiesmay face significant data loss due to insider threats, which account for 42 per cent of all confidential data breaches.

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