Dealing with Employee Data Theft: What to Include in Your Termination Policy

For most companies, physical data storage has become a thing of the past. Improvements in technology and the growth of cloud access both make it easier than ever to upload, manage and share information electronically, but this convenience gives rise to concerns over what employees might do with confidential data if they’re let go from a position.

recently terminated employee packing box

The Risk of Insider Data Theft

Insider threats are an unfortunate fact of the modern corporate landscape, and employees upset about being fired are major risks to data security.

Driven by a sense of entitlement or the desire to “get back” at the company drives them to steal proprietary or sensitive data for their own purposes. They may even see data sets to which they contributed as belonging to them or take information to competitors in the hopes of being able to profit from it in some way.

Protecting Data when Employees Leave

If employees retain access to the company network after being informed of termination, it gives them time to steal as much information as they want.

Before making any firing announcements, have your IT staff reset passwords and revoke permissions for third-party tools used in handling company data.

At the time that an employee is being officially let go, collect all devices and equipment owned by the company. Also be sure to wipe proprietary data from personal devices used in the office or for remote work, and consider putting a system in place in which passwords are changed on a random schedule to further prevent any compromised data issues.

Screening New Hires

When an employee is terminated, someone has to fill the vacant position. Use the hiring process as an opportunity to start fresh.

Perform thorough screenings of all potential hires, and begin the onboarding process early. Include training in proper use of personal devices and secure transmission of company data, and communicate your policy for accessing sensitive information used in remote work.

Have all new employees sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement before the first day on the job. To maintain company-wide data security, work with your IT administrator to set an appropriate level of access based on the position you’re filling.

Using a security platform like Employee Monitoring can help you monitor for any unauthorized privilege changes while also tracking who accessed confidential data and when.

Data security should always be top priority within your company. Practicing diligence in the hiring process and following a strict protocol when an employee must be let go minimizes the risk of corporate intellectual property theft. Stick with your established security policy to keep your company’s information safe.


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