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How are you dealing with information theft by terminated employees?

 

A recent article in CFO.com highlighted the damage that a disgruntled employee can cause after termination by a company. (Here is the link: http://tiny.cc/ptbcbw). As a CFO at various companies, we developed detailed protocols to try and avoid or mitigate this potential for damage.  When possible we started before the employee was terminated by looking into outplacement options so that we could present the employee with resources at the time of termination. We also developed checklists of equipment and resources used by the employee so that we knew upfront what needed to be protected or collected from the employee. Now however, with more information moving from servers to Cloud applications and the storage capacity of smartphones and other devices increasing dramatically, I am concerned about keeping up with all the potential “holes in the dike”. I am interested in hearing how others are coping with preventing confidential data from leaving with the employee. 

Answers

Michael Jameson
Title: VP Finance
Company: Undisclosed
(VP Finance, Undisclosed) |

That's a question we've been dealing with as well. Some systems, like Box, allow an admin full control over the user's files in the cloud. I find that makes it even easier to control their access than when you would confiscate their hard drive. Also makes it easy to give their content to another employee. However, you need to get everyone using Box (or Dropbox or an equivalent service), and using it for all of their business files. We have simply made it company policy to do so. Now we have a process for assessing data in Box and assigning it to others post-termination. Their particular technology is not entirely smooth for "owner" transfer, but it works and is far easier than taking laptops and copying/moving files.

Jane Levin
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: Private
(Corporate Controller, Private) |

We use Google Docs a lot, especially spreadsheets. At my company, the senior leader of any project done on this platform is given editor rights to the item so that they can remove anyone with access instantly. Also, all the logins are managed via company email addresses, so that when the company lets someone go, of if they leave, the company is in control of their email address, and thus their Google docs access (via removing that person's old login and getting a new login via Google sent to their company email address). As Michael says above, it's not exactly smooth, but allows for cloud-based collaboration and control on the way out.

Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

Randy,
We have been through this situation too. Obviously we need to continue to monitor and update employee terms of engagement and IP and confidentiality agreements to ensure that the question of ownership is 100% clear up front, and is continually re affirmed through periodic reviews and reminders. At least , at termination, there will be clear consideration of issue of "retained" proprietary information including electronic data files at the time of termination, and this should be considered in the overall termination package.

The growing use of personal tools such as smart phones makes the challenge far harder than just recovering a piece of Company provided hardware. In fact, for consultants who are generally required to provide their own tools, there will be no question of receiving and "cleaning" hardware on termination of a contractor.

Topic Expert
Vernon Reizman
Title: CFO
Company: RCM Industries, Inc.
(CFO, RCM Industries, Inc.) |

Randy, I am not sure you can ever close all the potential leaks in information going with the former employee. We try to head off the risk of damages by requiring all salaried employees, or those with access to core information, to sign a confidentiality agreement upon hire. Does not prevent the totally disgruntled employee but we remind the exiting employee of this document and it has come in handy a few times.

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