Many companies lack a formal procedure for offboarding employees, which can leave them vulnerable to data leaks. This gap in protocol turns departing employees into potential threats, leading to an increased risk of unauthorized data access and misuse.
This article outlines how to prevent such risks, keeping your company’s data safe from unauthorized access after an employee leaves. By putting these strategies into action, you not only maintain your data’s integrity but also uphold your company’s reputation and ensure business continuity in the face of employee turnover.
Navigating the Complexities of Employee Terminations
When an employee leaves, whether by resignation or termination, it’s always a difficult situation. It has a profound effect on both managers and employees, often leading to a complicated process.
After the emotional turmoil of such a departure, there’s a necessary phase of administrative cleanup. This involves managing passwords, access rights, and other data-linked elements associated with the former employee.
More Passwords, Less Control
Our digital world involves a growing list of passwords and logins. For a company or IT professional, it can be challenging to keep track of:
- The digital services an employee uses throughout their workday
- Different cloud services and programs used by departments
- Sensitive data contained within these services
This widespread use of digital services and passwords also increases the risk of former employees retaining access to critical systems after their departure. If these former employees harbor ill intentions, this access could have serious implications for the company’s operations, client relationships, and financial health.
Mitigating Risk with Improved Access Management
Having a systematic way to manage your employees’ passwords is incredibly beneficial, especially when employees unexpectedly fall ill or misplace their devices.
Improving access management isn’t just about guarding against external threats. Many data breaches are caused by weak password security or former employees retaining access to company data. Focusing on better access control provides a more robust defence against both external and internal threats. Additionally, it equips companies with the tools to handle the cybersecurity risks of digitalization and minimizes unnecessary employee access.
Many companies rely on mutual trust for access management. While this works well when respected, a breach of trust can lead to catastrophic consequences. As a result, using systems that aid in managing and controlling access rights and employee logins is one of the most effective ways to prevent data breaches and malicious behavior.
Here’s our 7 most effective tips for keeping company data safe when employees leave your organization.
7 Tips to Keep Company Data Safe when Employees Leave
1. Create a Comprehensive Offboarding Procedure
Implement a clear, step-by-step offboarding process that kicks in as soon as an employee hands in their notice. This should involve HR, IT, and the employee’s manager to ensure all bases are covered.
2. Revoke Access Rights Immediately
As soon as an employee’s departure is confirmed, revoke their access to all company digital resources. This includes email accounts, databases, cloud storage, internal networks, and any other systems they used.
3. Change Shared Passwords
If the departing employee had access to shared accounts, ensure those passwords are changed immediately. This should be part of your offboarding checklist.
4. Use an Identity and Access Management Solution
Invest in an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution. Tools like these can you manage digital identities, control access rights, and track user activities, making the offboarding process simpler and more secure.
5. Remove or Archive Email Accounts
Don’t let a former employee’s email account become a security risk. Disable their access and arrange for any incoming emails to be forwarded to an active employee. You may also want to archive the account’s contents for a period of time for reference.
6. Conduct a Thorough Exit Interview
Use the exit interview to remind departing employees of any ongoing obligations regarding confidentiality and data privacy. This is also a good time to confirm that they’ve returned any company property, such as keys, ID cards, or devices, that could give them physical access to data.
7. Monitor for Suspicious Activity
After the employee has left, monitor your systems for any signs of suspicious activity. Early detection of a potential breach can significantly limit any damage.
By following these steps, you can greatly reduce the risk of data breaches and ensure your company’s data remains secure, even when employees leave.
Automation: The Key To Securing the Offboarding Process
While each of these steps is crucial, manual implementation can be quite a task. Fortunately, most of these tasks can be automated with a password and access management platform like Uniqkey. This not only enhances overall security but also eases the workload of your administrative team.
Establishing a well-defined procedure for safely offboarding employees is key to minimizing risk. It’s essential to avoid situations where numerous former employees could still have access to your systems long after their departure. Furthermore, systematic management of your employees’ passwords is also proven invaluable in unforeseen circumstances, such as when an employee falls ill or misplaces their devices.
In this era of rapid digitalization, securing your company’s data is paramount. By implementing these strategies, aided by platforms like Uniqkey, you can ensure that your company remains protected, even in the face of employee departures.