How To Protect Your Data From Resigned Employees 

by Josh Biggs in Tips on 25th September 2021

Employees are never permanent in organizations. At some point, they’re bound to leave to pursue other opportunities. When employees resign from their jobs, there’s very little you can do to change their minds. While some may quit seeking better opportunities, not every person who leaves your business has good intentions.  

When working for your company, employees access huge amounts of sensitive business data, like trade secrets, that shouldn’t be accessible to competitors or people outside the business. Increasingly, companies are grappling with the challenge of data-stealing by resigning employees.  

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your data from resigned employees. Here are four of them:  

  1. Develop Data Protection Policies  

Protecting company data from resigned employees shouldn’t be a step that you take when employees have submitted resignation letters. Instead, it should be a proactive practice that’s present throughout a team member’s stay in the organization. It all starts when companies work with managed IT support to develop comprehensive data protection policies that employees adhere to.  

The best way to get team members to consent to data protection is during their onboarding process. At this point, ensure your employees understand your data protection policy provisions and what the company expects of them when it comes to handling its data. Businesses should also inform their teams of the surveillance activities implemented. 

When companies have the consent of employees on data protection, they’re in a better position to enforce proactive measures to prevent and identify data breaches. Beyond consent, businesses should incentivize employees to report any questionable actions.  

  1. Enhance Data Intrusion Surveillance 

Another way to protect your data from resigned employees is to employ surveillance solutions that monitor the actions of individual employees. Often, there are telltale signs that you can spot before a team member leaves your company. For instance, employees may start searching career portals in other companies or use the office Wi-Fi to submit job applications.  

Surveillance solutions help spot inconsistencies in team member behavior within time. For instance, surveillance solutions may track the sites visited by employees, lists of downloaded files, instant messages, social media posts, and emails forwarded to personal accounts.  

Keeping an eye on browsing and email trends can give you an idea of whether employees are stealing company data. You can detect this with ease by setting up correspondence notifications. This heightens the surveillance of risky employees and allows you to pre-empt corporate espionage as you can detect document downloads or mailing large files to personal accounts.  

If you apply this strategy, ensure that it’s included in your company’s team member handbook. Also, make sure that employees are well informed of how surveillance will be used to protect company data.  

  1. Apply Non-Disclosure Agreements  

When an employee who knows your company’s trade secrets resign, panic situations can arise. To ensure the non-disclosure of such information, businesses should require employees prone to such data to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. Doing so will protect your company data as soon as they depart from your company.  

Ideally, these agreements should cover many issues, including the duty not to disclose company data to third parties during and after employment. Furthermore, companies should regularly review and update non-disclosure agreements to ensure compliance with data laws in countries of operation.  

  1. Establish Clear Handing Over Procedures  

To protect your data from resigned employees, ensure that your company has a straightforward procedure for off-boarding employees and handing over confidential information. Often, this requirement should be included in the employment agreement, making it binding. Confidential information could be printed or it can be in an electronic format. It may consist of sales data, financial information, and customer lists.  

Other than securing data, handing over procedures should include requesting resigned employees to return any corporate devices they had and revoking their administrative access permissions. As resigned employees exit the company, security teams in the organization should conduct post-resignation interviews on data storage.  

These include asking questions regarding the safety of personal data, like whether they used public Wi-Fi to access company files, whether they lent company devices to family or friends, or whether they have hard data copies at home.  

Final Thoughts 

Employees have every right to resign and move on to new jobs. However, not all employees can be trusted to leave without stealing sensitive corporate data. As such, companies must take steps to protect their data. Doing so will ensure that transitioning employees don’t cause a data breach, which results in revenue and customer losses. As a start, you can apply the four strategies discussed above to protect your corporate data from resigned employees.  

Categories: Tips