How to protect your business from ex-employees

business man holding a box of their possesings

Employees will join and leave your company on a regular basis. When they’re no longer part of your team though, it’s important to remove the access to your IT system which they used to enjoy.

Of course, hopefully none of your former employees want to sneak back into your system for nefarious purposes.

But laptops can be lost. Favourite passwords can be stolen and used to access other accounts.

Protecting your business from ex-employees is about more than whether they left on the best of terms. It’s about making sure that you are protected against any possible data breach, accidental or deliberate.

Here’s how you do it:

Creating your employee exit IT security strategy

1) Have an offboarding process

Having a set offboarding process in place helps you guarantee nothing gets missed whenever anyone leaves your company.

When you’re designing your process, this list is a solid place to start.

2) Take back company devices and data

Devices which were issued to that employee should be retrieved. Don’t forget:

  • Desktops
  • Laptops
  • Mobile devices
  • USBs (these are often easy to overlook but can contain the most critical files)

Removing any company data stored on personal devices – probably using an MDM (Mobile Device Management) system – should also be part of this step.

3) Set up automatic email forwarding

This is vital for every employee leaving your company. It’s particularly important if they were the point of contact for certain clients.

Make sure all emails intended for your former team member are forwarded to the person taking over those responsibilities.

You should also reach out to clients to ensure they know who their new point of contact is.

4) Revoke their access

As soon as that employee walks out of the door for the final time, they no longer need their company logons. Update and revoke their access to all of your internal systems. This will include things like:

  • Changing account passwords for their company email accounts
  • Changing team or company-wide passwords, passcodes and company card PINs
  • Delegating mailboxes
  • Removing licenses
  • Resetting or deleting other company-related accounts (such as VPN accounts)

It’s worth bearing in mind that information stored on the cloud is much easier to control than information stored locally. This makes it simple to revoke access when a team member leaves.

5) Plan document and project handover

Most organisations store documents in shared company folders or cloud-based business tools.

This is good practice. It also means that all you need to do to ensure continuity is to make sure current employees are aware of the current status and location of projects.

If you allow employees to routinely store their files on personal devices, it should be standard practice to retrieve those files and have your former employee delete their copy when they leave.

6) Take care of the business and legal side

Not strictly in the IT field, but related to it, are things like:

  • Contracts – employee contracts need to be created by a professional solicitor. They should be written in a way that ensures, even after employment ends, a duty of confidentiality continues.
  • Knowledge loss – loss of knowledge relating to projects, processes and systems is a key point to consider when a team member moves on. Their handover needs to include rigorous documentation or passing on of critical knowledge to other members of your team. Otherwise, you risk that knowledge walking out the door alongside your ex-employee.

7) Set up IT system monitoring

With the right monitoring in place, your IT system will detect and prevent large data transfers to external sources – something you want to be safeguarding against as a matter of course.

You can even remain in control of data on company phones and other devices, remotely managing and even deleting it if necessary.

Steps like this are a good way to prepare yourself for all kinds of cyber security threats.

Protecting your business from ex-employees

It is important to remember that none of this is to imply that every former employee is going to be running around wildly trying to steal your information.

But by neatly drawing a line under their exit and preventing the tiny slips which can lead to major data breaches, you are protecting your business from even the most well-meaning of ex-employees.

Do you have a strategy in place to protect your business when an employee leaves?

Let’s talk about creating one. At Dial A Geek we consult with businesses in Bristol and across the country on every aspect of IT security. 968 SMEs trust us to keep them going!

Give us a call on 0117 369 4335 or email [email protected].

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