Former Employees and Data Leaks: The Enemy Within

by securedatamgt | 13 Jan 2015

Security Leak Word Cloud

Protecting your businesses’ information is not easy. It is a full time job that can prove to be highly demanding at the best of times. It is almost impossible for you to predict where all the threats to your information will come from, but being aware of these dangers will at least equip you to implement a secure data storage programme that is suited to your organisation’s needs.

How business data can be at risk

One danger that applies to all businesses is the ex-employee and the possibility of data leaks. This is not to say every employee will leave your business resentful and should be suspect, but every so often a business will say farewell to an employee who is reluctant to fly the nest and might choose to use dirty tactics to bolster their own future prospects.

Ex-employees who steal confidential information are the exception not the rule. The most famous example of such behaviour in recent times has to be the whistle blower Edward Snowden, who used to be a NSA contractor but acquired classified information whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden is now being charged with stealing government property, unlawful disclosure of national defence and confidential communications intelligence.

There are plenty of less publicised examples of information leaving the office along with the disenchanted employee.

To learn more about how your company can be affected by data protection check out our blog: Data Protection – what is it and how does it affect your company

High profile security breaches

The chipmaker, Advanced Micro Devices, had an uneasy reunion with four former employees who took valuable records with them to the company’s competitors Nvidia; since then the ex-employees have been taken to court by Advanced Micro Devices.

There was a marked increase of cases in the recession years as many companies had to resort to redundancy. You might well be thinking that the UK is no longer in a recession, so surely this is not such an acute problem, and you would be right – the UK‘s economy experienced a period of relative stability.

As it stands, the UK is likely to be one of the fastest growing G7 economies this year with its seven successive quarters of growth. However, many have suggested that these better times are unlikely to last much longer. Employers should always be prepared for the worst by prioritising information security and office storage services.

Why do data leaks occur?

There are a number of reasons why a former employee might look to take confidential information with them, whether this be in a digital or hardcopy format. The employee might be thinking of starting their own company or joining a rival company. If this is the case then your client lists would be a very tempting prospect for them.

An ex-employee could use this information for blackmail purposes in order to get their old job back or could leak information to the press; you would be surprised at the lengths some are willing to go for a profit. Ex-employees can be especially dangerous as they will know the ins and outs of your record management system and are likely to have access to classified documents.

When an employee is asked to leave they are normally given a probation period of a couple of months and in some executive jobs it could take up to a year for an employee to leave. This gives an individual plenty of time to snoop around. If an employee knows they are on their way out what have they got to lose?

How to safeguard company data

When hiring any employee it would be worth including a clause in their contract, also known as covenants, concerning information security that comes into effect once they leave.

Another effective way to protect company information is by enforcing records management processes with offsite control. A system that is easy to use, will quickly detect if a file does go missing and guarantees vigorous security around the clock. An offsite storage facility can offer this and more.

At a competitive offsite facility your files will be monitored 24/7 by fully vetted staff, and will be under the watchful eye of CCTV and police alarms. A records management provider will ensure sure that only employees with proper clearance are able to access business documents. The days of vendettas in the workplace may not be over, but let’s try and make dirty tactics a thing of the past.