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IT Security Step to Keep Out Snooping Employees Blog Feature
Courtney Casey

By: Courtney Casey on August 29th, 2011

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IT Security Step to Keep Out Snooping Employees

Cyber Security

In today's age of information, it is not uncommon for employees to have access to a company's electronic data such as customer email lists, financial records and even trade secrets at the click of a button.

They can access this information anywhere, anytime. For a productive employee, having access to this information is necessary for the job they are performing, but what happens when they leave the organization?

Today, employees have easy access to much more information than they did in the past. Just a decade ago, if an employee wanted to take information from the company, they would need the physical key to get into the file cabinet where the paper documents were stored. Then they would have to make copies of the documents and have some way to transport them without arousing suspicion.

Now, company information and documents are stored electronically, making it much easier to access, copy and transport wherever you want. All the employee needs is the right password and a flash drive and they could take nearly anything they wanted to with ease.

The problem is that now, you can't deny parting employees access to your information the same way you did in the past - getting their key back - it does not work.

Here's A Case In Point:

DuPont, a science-based products and services company, filed a lawsuit in August 2009 against a research scientist who allegedly stole more than 600 files by putting them onto an external hard drive. A big problem for DuPont, and unfortunately this wasn't the only time it happened. Another research scientist was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for stealing proprietary information worth $400 million.

You're probably thinking that employee data theft doesn't happen in your line of business, or that it only happens to large companies. It happens to companies of all shapes and sizes. The Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm, found that data theft is widespread in the business world. According to their recent study, 59 percent of employees who are fired or quit take confidential business information with them.

What HR managers and business owners often forget is that access to this sensitive company information is not automatically cut off just because the employee no longer works there. Your IT department or IT company needs to be notified immediately if an employee who had access to any network information has been terminated.

For a secure and well-managed departure, alert your IT department or IT company in advance so access to information is cut off at the date and time that you specify. I know no one likes to think about this kind of stuff, but even when an employee leaves on a seemingly peaceful note, save yourself from the potential risk and take the necessary precautions. It could save you from a major headache later on.

As featured in August 7th issue of The Press-Enterprise.

Related: Social Engineering & IT Security: What Businesses Need To Know


About Courtney Casey

In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.