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How to Protect Your Business Data After Employees Leave

Kent Ellefsen

Businesses suffer from more than brain drain when employees leave. A Dell survey found that 35% of employees take corporate information as they exit, bringing your intellectual property or trade secrets to your competitors. Much like data breaches perpetrated by hackers, this kind of digital theft can go unnoticed if your IT team is not focused on finding security vulnerabilities in advance. To protect your business data from disgruntled employees, you need to implement cybersecurity strategies that mitigate the risk of losing confidential and sensitive data.

Control Employee Access to Data

Companies that are too permissive with data access jeopardize their businesses in more ways than one. Not only can hackers leverage lenient accessibility practices to compromise more data, but so can your departing employees. Through what’s known as privilege creep, employees accumulate access over time by mistake, movement between departments or roles, or unrevoked temporary access. When they go to leave, employees willing to take confidential information have access to a range of data well beyond what should be authorized.

The good news is that implementing identity access management limits the extent of abuses. Thorough documentation of user permissions and regular audits narrow data security risks. Moreover, companies that treat sensitive data as being on a “need to know” basis elevate their data protection above the competition. Remember: employees who cannot access your data will not be able to use it inappropriately.

Effectively Monitor Data Use

How can you predict whether or not an employee will take sensitive and confidential data? Monitor their habits and system usage during their final days. Certain signs give companies advance warning that an employee plans on taking classified data when they depart. With smart network management tools, companies are improving their odds of catching data piracy before it happens.

The trick is to set up automated data security measures that scan the network for any conspicuous activity rather than wasting time on manual monitoring. Cloud managed wireless access appliances like Cisco Meraki allow companies to watch for any irregular routines or activity coming from a soon-to-be-departing employee. For example, companies can configure notifications whenever a specific employee accesses data at peculiar hours or in ways that deviate from their usual habits. That way, your IT team can further investigate these discrepancies and restrict employee access in real time to prevent any further loss of data.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

Stolen data is useless if it is unreadable. Companies that want to prevent their employees from absconding with sensitive data should consider pursuing or expanding encryption. Because encrypted data is unreadable without a key, employees can take whatever they want without being able to do any damage to your organization.

Part of the challenge is to identify which files merit encryption. In relation to a departing employee, data that pertains to financial projections, proprietary systems or technologies, pending deals, employee records, or client financial information are all high risks. This information is either valuable in their new position or lucrative to sell on the black market. By investing in encryption, companies can protect files that are at rest, in use, or in motion and prevent employees from compromising any information.

Further Ways to Protect Your Business Data

Departing employees are not the only threat to data protection. There are a growing number of strategies and tactics that cybercriminals are using to compromise your sensitive and confidential information. For companies to prevent both disgruntled employees and hackers from endangering their businesses, it is crucial to expand data security measures to address evolving threats.

Want to learn more about the cybersecurity threats to businesses? Download our cybersecurity eBook to learn the most cost-effective data security measures.

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How to Protect Your Business Data After Employees Leave

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