Regardless of the circumstances, businesses need to ensure their critical information is safe when an employee leaves the company – a practice that, according to two recent reports, many organizations have failed to employ.
In a survey of 1,500 employees in the United States and Great Britain conducted by Harris Interactive, half of respondents admitted they would take business information with them when departing a company, Wall Street & Technology reports. Such information cited includes customer contact information, electronic files and product designs and plans.
Comparatively, a separate study by Venafi found that 40 percent of surveyed IT professionals stated that they could "hold their employers hostage" by preventing their former coworkers from finding encryption keys to access important data.
Furthermore, 31 percent of respondents to Venafi's survey said they could easily access vital business information using the encryption keys even after they left the company.
"Once the data's protected with encryption, the key becomes the data and the thing that must be managed and protected," Jeff Hudson, Venafi CEO, said in a release. "Key encryption is only half the solution. IT departments must track where the keys are and monitor and manage who has access to them. "
Both these studies highlight a need for businesses to implement data security policies that account for departing employees. While most former employees are not likely to use the information, just one disgruntled worker could wreak havoc on a business if he or she chose to do so.
As Wall Street & Technology pointed out, businesses need to find a balance that allows access to information while still imposing acceptable levels of security. Failure to do so may result in a data breach or another cyber attack – potentially costing the company millions of dollars and damaging its reputation.