With the advent of the internet, laptops, and trends toward work-life balance, employees are more often working from home or at an offsite location.
This new method of work creates unique problems for organizations trying to maintain control of their confidential company data.
New technologies make it quick and easy to transfer or copy data electronically.
Recent Symantec Study states that “half of employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months kept confidential corporate data and 40 percent plan to use it in their new jobs.”
Regardless of how an employee leaves employment, whether being laid off, downsizing, or just finding another position, these numbers are alarming, particularly when employees jump ship and go to work for a competitor.
Organizations spend millions of dollars on monitoring software to keep an eye on where employees are going and what they are doing.
But even with these advances in technology, employers need to be diligent at continually putting safeguards in place to help minimize electronic data theft.
5 Things You Can Do To Safeguard Company Data
1. Return Company Electronic Equipment
When employees leave an organization, they should be required to return all company computers, related hardware, and backup drives.
For example, If employees create their own backup drives of company data, there should be an understanding and expectation that any data that is kept offsite in the possession of employees will be returned to the organization.
2. Monitor Employee Activities
When employees submit their resignation letters, companies should monitor employee activities to watch for transferring data or emailing information.
Be upfront and talk to the employee as they are cleaning out electronic files.
If they are aware that you are paying attention, they will be less likely to take unauthorized information.
3. Exit Interview
Employers should always do an exit interview with employees.
In addition to gaining perspectives on the employee’s experience, employers should remind employees of confidentiality agreements and specifically ask about returning company property.
Ask them specifically if there is any company data in their possession and if so, make a plan with them for retrieving it.
4. Cancel Access To Company Files
This should go without saying, but employers should remember to cancel employee email accounts, login credentials, and turn off access to company networks and files when an employee leaves employment.
These access points should be canceled the day the employee leaves employment.
5. Communicate and Educate
Organizations should educate employees on the importance of safeguarding company data.
There should also be systematic communication of the company’s expectation that employees won’t take electronic data.
The more something is communicated, the more important the employee will understand it to be.
These are just a few things organizations can do to safeguard electronic data.
There are federal and state laws that protect organizations from computer data tampering.
But as with any other legal matter, it takes time and expense to pursue litigation. The best course of action is to stop it before it starts.