By Charles Leaver

Ex-employees are likely cause of data leakage

Often motivated by feelings of ill will, some workers may decide to steal sensitive company data and bring it out with them on their last day within an organization. This kind of data leakage happens more often than one may think, and it often goes unreported and unrecognized until administrators see their sensitive data outside their own company.

A recent Ponemon Institute survey showed that 50 percent of participants admitted to taking sensitive information with them when leaving a position, stated The Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, Robert Yonowitz, a partner with law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP, told Network World that 90 percent of issues relating to ex-employee data leakage occur within the first two weeks after a worker leaves their position. Businesses need to proactively address this issue in order to ensure the safety of their essential, sensitive data.

Document data locations
More often than not, information that is essential to a company is not kept in a central location. Instead, it is separated and stored depending on department or employee utilization for ease of access. However, without a well-documented storage system, compromised data may go unnoticed by administrators. Cybersecurity analyst George J. Silowash told the Journal that businesses should always know where sensitive data is being stored and keep good records about important data locations. This way, even if private information is present in different areas of the company, administrators can still keep a watchful eye over it.

Employee access
Furthermore, Gartner research analyst Earl Perkins recommended that companies also keep detailed records relating to which employees have access to certain sensitive information. Once an employee leaves the company, administrators can utilize these records to deny the employee in question further access to the important data. This can nip data leakage related to ex-employees in the bud.

Open lines of communication
The Wall Street Journal also advised organizations to ensure that IT security managers are continually communicating with the human resources department. In this way, those in charge of security can be made aware of possible future layoffs or internal problems that may lead an employee to be fired or quit. Armed with this information, IT personnel can be proactive about locking down sensitive data and making sure it is not stolen by workers on their way out.

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