How to Protect Corporate Data After Terminating an Employee

Terminating an employee is never easy. You’re alienating a former coworker, which leads to wounded feelings and disgruntled behavior. In the cloud computing era, the situation is particularly problematic. Your former employee has access to lots of vital information that you must protect. Here are four steps to protecting your data after terminating an employee.

Remove Privileges

Protecting Corporate Data When an Employee is Terminated

Hollywood movies and television shows offer dramatic portrayals of the firing process, showing angry former employees who make a scene and then storm out of the office. The real world is rarely so theatrical.

The fired employee will collect his or her belongings and hand over any security access items, identification badge included. Once the employee is gone, remember to revoke his or her internet access privileges. Otherwise, the employee will be able to view your secured data from anywhere that offers web access.

Remember Hardware

Taking away privileges to cloud access and secured network files is a good start. But what you must remember is that any computer hardware that the terminated worker possesses maintains a connection to these files. Unless you’re a major corporation, you likely don’t require constant logins to the network. The danger is those who sporadically work from home have access to that same information. When they return to their residence after termination, they may feel the urge to do some damage to your important files.

The way to avoid this is simple. Require all employees to use company hardware if they want to use the cloud or network files. Then, when they leave your company, remember to take back these products. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones all offer easily forgotten access to the data you want to protect.

Think Socially

No, this doesn’t mean that you should try to get a terminated worker to like you. Instead, keep in mind that many employees have access to social media accounts. Coworkers often cover for one another during absences, and the occasional impulsive update is enough for someone to get the Twitter password.

Such a security breach on your social networks is potentially humiliating. Consider HMV, a music chain that had operated for roughly a century. It erred by allowing workers to hear about their own terminations. Several of these doomed employees started tweeting about the company’s incompetence. Soon afterward, the company went bankrupt, eventually selling to a competitor. It’s easy to avoid a mistake like this. Just limit your employees’ social media account access, and change the passwords after you fire employees.

Use Security Software

Even the best IT employees are unlikely to notice when someone inappropriately accesses files from a previously authorized account. Automated software is more vigilant and more reliable in identifying data security breaches. The best products not only prevent attacks from happening but also feature fail-safes and backups if someone should try to harm your data.

Firing an employee is never easy. It also comes with a degree of risk. A fired employee can destroy the work of countless other good workers, so follow these steps to help prevent this from happening.


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