Data is increasingly becoming a big deal in the business scene. Unfortunately, some entities and people will go to every length to access this data, even when it means doing so illegally.
Controlling how you handle data internally may not be much of a problem; the complicated bit is dealing with ex-employees who may have had access to your sensitive data.
Even so, you can do a few things to protect your data from such employees, including taking legal action against them. This article explores everything you need to know when dealing with ex-employees who compromise data security.
Why is data security critical?
Data refers to any information that is processed, stored, or transmitted in digital form. It can include anything from financial records to employee information and customer lists to proprietary concepts and ideas.
Data security breaches can lead to serious legal problems, such as financial penalties imposed on the company by regulators if they fail to protect sensitive information or comply with specific laws related to data protection.
Additionally, criminals can use compromised data to commit identity theft or other forms of fraud, leading to further legal consequences for a business should the affected parties choose to sue for damages resulting from a data breach.
Dealing with data breaches from ex-employees
There are two approaches to protecting against data breaches, which include preventative and preventive.
1. Clear data security policies
One of the most effective ways to prevent data breaches by ex-employees is to create clear data security policies that outline expectations for handling sensitive information. This can include guidelines for storing data, who has access to it, and what should be done in case of a breach.
For example, a policy might require that all data be encrypted and stored on secure servers or that employees only be given access to data on a need-to-know basis. By establishing these policies upfront, businesses can reduce the risk of accidental or intentional data breaches by ex-employees.
2. Training employees on data security
Companies that make data security an ongoing priority have a significant advantage over those that don’t. Regular training on best practices, such as spotting phishing scams and creating strong passwords, ensures employees understand the value of safeguarding confidential information inside and outside the workplace.
Investing in this type of education is vital to keeping company data secure now – and into the future.
3. Access control and revoking access
Businesses should implement access controls and monitoring systems to limit the amount of data employees can access and revoke that access immediately upon termination of employment.
This can include multi-factor authentication and user behavior analytics, which can help identify unusual activity and prevent unauthorized access. By implementing these controls and revoking access as soon as possible, businesses can reduce the risk of data breaches by ex-employees who may still have access to sensitive information. In addition, using a reliable and secure timesheet app can further enhance data protection by providing a centralized platform for tracking and managing employee hours, ensuring that sensitive data is securely stored and accessed only by authorized personnel.
4. Signing non-disclosure agreements
Another effective preventative measure against data compromise by ex-employees is the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). NDAs are legal contracts prohibiting individuals from disclosing confidential information, such as trade secrets or customer data.
These agreements can be used with both employees and contractors. They can help prevent data breaches by setting clear expectations around handling sensitive information while working for and after leaving the company.
NDAs should be signed by all employees and contractors with access to confidential information, ideally, before they get access to it. The agreement should include clear definitions of what constitutes confidential information and outline the consequences of violating the agreement, which may include legal action and termination of employment or contract.
Businesses should be aware that sometimes their best security measures may not suffice to stop an ex-employee from seeking revenge and accessing sensitive data. In such a situation, companies must take action against any offenders, including pursuing criminal charges or filing civil lawsuits.
5. Filling a lawsuit against them
As data security breaches continue to pose a real threat businesses face today, legal action may be necessary as the last line of defense. Filing or initiating a lawsuit against an ex-employee is one option that should not be taken lightly and is best done with guidance from professional lawyers.
We recommend taking advantage of credible resources such as this one on Heer Law on cease and desist letters as an initial step. This serves to protect your business’ rights while also warning your former employee in question before considering more aggressive actions like lawsuits that can cause further damage to all parties involved.
6. Seek criminal prosecution
Unauthorized access to company data is illegal and can constitute a criminal offense. So besides filing a lawsuit against them, you should also consider handing the matter over to law enforcement for criminal investigations and prosecution.
This involves working with law enforcement and cyber security experts to track the ex-employee and build a case against them. Depending on the severity of the breach, criminal charges may include theft, fraud, or espionage.
Pursuing criminal prosecution can send a strong message to other employees and deter them from similar actions in the future. However, it’s important to weigh the potential costs and risks of pursuing criminal prosecution, as it can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
7. Notifying affected parties
Handling data breaches is an essential step for businesses of all sizes. If a former employee causes one, it’s important to be aware that you may need to notify those whose information has been accessed or stolen – and this notification must happen in many jurisdictions by law.
Notifying affected parties can help protect the business from legal liabilities and brand image damage associated with not taking action.
8. Improve your systems to prevent such incidents from recurring
A data breach points to a deficiency in your data security approach, which should be a wake-up call to change. Therefore, it is essential to implement additional security measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
This can include implementing more robust access controls and monitoring systems, increasing security awareness training for all employees and conducting regular security audits and risk assessments.
Other measures might include implementing more frequent password changes, using stronger encryption methods for sensitive data, and ensuring that all software and systems are up-to-date and patched against known vulnerabilities.