One of the hardest tasks for any business owner is letting go of an employee. To make the process even harder you need to consider the security risk you could face during the process. Today, we will discuss the risks you face and the steps you can take before, during, and after firing or laying off an employee.
5 Most Common Risks Business Face During Offboarding An Employee
1. Unauthorized Access To Sensitive Data
The employee may have access to customer data or intellectual property that you don’t want them taking with them or sharing with others when they leave.
2. Reputation Damage
You have worked for years to earn a reputation in your industry. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, losing that trust can. A disgruntled employee may leak confidential information publicly or make disparaging comments about your company in the press. Do you have a plan to keep this from happening?
3. Employee Sabotage
Employee or malicious behavior, such as deleting important files before they leave is not common but it does happen. Taking the right steps before you let someone go can help you mitigate some of that risk.
4. Data Theft
Data theft and security breaches, either intentional or accidental by the employee are two of the biggest risks you face when letting an employee go. This is especially important if you work with sensitive data such as information regarding identity, i.e. social security numbers, birth dates, credit card information, or even health information.
5. Loss Of Institutional Knowledge
Loss of institutional knowledge when a key employee departs could mean it takes longer to complete tasks after they’re gone because their unique skills are no longer readily available. This happens when an employee is the only one who understands the processes they follow on a daily basis. Having written processes for every position in your company is a good way to avoid this risk.
10 Steps To Take To Avoid Security Risks During The Offboarding Process
1. Conduct A Security Risk Assessment
Before the offboarding process even begins, conduct a security risk assessment for the employee you are about to terminate or lay off. This assessment should assess the security risks posed by any access that the employee may have to company systems, networks, and data.
2. Know Which Accounts Will Need To Be Disabled
Identify all of the accounts and resources that need to be disabled or removed upon the employee’s departure. This includes access to company systems, networks, and data, as well as any security protocols that need to be changed.
3. Update Security Tools
Make sure all network security tools are up to date and that all users have the latest security updates before disabling an employee’s account.
4. Create A Security Policy
Create a security policy and procedure document that outlines the security protocols that must be followed during the offboarding process. Make sure to review this document regularly.
5. Change Passwords
Change any passwords associated with the employee’s account prior to disabling it.
6. Revoke Access
Revoke all access privileges, including remote access and physical access to company premises and systems.
7. Backup & Secure All Data
Ensure all company data is backed-up and securely stored in case the employee tries to access it after departure. One thing that is easy to forget is to change the wifi password. Employees have been known to access data from the parking lot of the building.
8. Perform a Security Audit
Have a security audit of any systems or networks that were used by the terminated employee to identify possible security risks.
9. Follow The Security Process
This should go without saying but often companies can go years between having to offboard an employee. It’s easy to forget that you have a process in place. Make sure all security protocols are followed when disposing of any materials that contain sensitive information related to the employee.
10. Understand How To Dispose Of Devices
Make sure all security protocols, including data destruction protocols, are followed when disposing of any devices that were used by the terminated employee.
By following these security steps during an offboarding process, you can help avoid security risks and reduce your legal liability in the event of a security breach or data loss. Additionally, taking these steps can help you protect your company’s confidential information and intellectual property. Be sure to consult with security professionals for additional guidance as needed. The security of your organization should always be a top priority!