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File folders at a Wal Mart in August 2017. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The security firm Varonis found that 41% of large companies on which it performed data audits gave all employees access to at least a thousand sensitive files.

Why it matters: Giving employees too much access to sensitive files risks problems with insider threats and increases the likelihood hackers are able to access vital information.

If you start from the assumption there's no guaranteed way to prevent hackers from breaking into your network, limiting access to files a no brainer.
— John Carlin, a former assistant attorney general focused on national security and current chair of Morrison & Foerster’s global risk and crisis management practice

Other results of the study:

  • 58% of companies let all employees access at least 100,000 folders.
  • 21% of all folders are accessible by all employees.
  • 34% of user accounts in corporate servers are "stale but enabled," meaning that no employee uses the accounts, but the accounts still have access to data.
  • 65% of companies have users with passwords that never expire.

Yes, but: Clients seeking data audits are a self selecting group. While 65 percent of companies Varonis audited have at least 500 users with passwords that never expire, only one in 10 businesses have more than 20 employees. You do the math.

  • Still, the data is in keeping with what Carlin has seen in both the public and private sector: "By default, too many firms leave a majority of folders open to everyone."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.