Stop data from exiting with employees

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25 August 2016 | 0

It may come as a surprise, but more likely than not, when employees leave a company they are taking company data with them. While it is not always out of malicious intent, the amount of unprotected company information that walks out the door can result in bigger losses in the future.

A study of data in the workplace by secure enterprise communications company Biscom, found that more than one in four employees leave their job with company data.

The study highlights employees as a significant security vulnerability for business data. To help prevent this, Bill Ho, CEO, Biscom, offers a few tips to minimise this threat.

  1. Establish clear employee policies on handling company data and information
    Often, companies do not have policies in place that prevent employees from taking company data with them. According to the study, 84% of employees claimed there were no policies preventing them from taking company information. To help prevent this, create comprehensive policies that are clear and thorough, outlining that all information, documents, and data created by the employee, or any other employee, are considered company property.
  2. Incorporate data ownership and handling policies into employee agreements
    Adding specific language and clear ramifications in offer letters and other company forms will immediately establish significance around protecting company data as you begin to onboard new employees. This will help each employee understand that all information created while at the company, is to be regarded as proprietary and confidential from day one.
  3. Add data protection and security discussions to new employee orientation and training
    Taking time to discuss data protection and basic security protocols will help increase awareness among your team and minimise data breaches. This is a good time to communicate policies such as using personal devices to access and complete company tasks, and using consumer versions of file sharing and collaboration tools. While using personal devices and popular EFSS tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive can be convenient, monitoring permission-based access and user controls can be difficult and lead to an open door of data loss.
  4. Understand how to handle an attack or social engineering ploy
    Knowing when and how to cancel accounts, block access and deny permissions will be key in protecting company data from internal threats. The longer critical information is unprotected and exposed, the more vulnerable your data and company is to harm.
  5. Encourage reporting of suspicious activity
    Make it clear to all employees that any suspicious activity should be reported. Most often, some of the biggest data breaches come from an internal source, even if it was a mistake. Teach employees basic tips on phishing schemes and how to speak up if they suspect an internal threat.
  6. Train on best practices continuously and often — practice makes perfect
    Hold quarterly meetings on data prevention with all employees. Frequent discussions and basic Q&A sessions will foster a transparent environment where employees feel comfortable with policies and using tools that are safe for the company.
  7. Establish data classification and access permissions – limit access to those who need it, e.g. using the principle of least privilege
    As more companies move to the cloud, tracking permissions and user access can get muddled and lost. Limit control starting with employees who don’t need total access and only give permission to information employees need. Keeping a spreadsheet that lists every employee’s access, tools and apps, can help you monitor and cancel accounts based on roles and if needed, departures.
  8. Create a response plan and practice it
    Proactivity around “when” instead of “if” will prepare your company in the event of an emergency and can help save your company from big losses. Having an emergency response plan (EAP) and procedures in place will establish a clear guide on what to do in the event of an attack. An EAP may also be necessary in the event an employee is terminated or fired under bad circumstances — according to the study, 22% of respondents reported they would be more likely to steal company information if they were let go under bad circumstances.

 

 

IDG News Service

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