Steps To Take When An Employee Resigns Employment

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written by craig beam posted on October 3, 2021

Steps To Take When An Employee Resigns Employment

When it comes time to terminate an employee or an employee suddenly resigns, there is often a lot of fear involved. “Will this employee cause a data breach?” This is an understandable concern, as data breaches from ex-employees have happened in the past. However, keeping these tips in mind will allow you to prepare for any potential risks, both in the present and future.

What are the Risks of Terminating an Employee?

There are a few potential risks when it comes to terminating a cybersecurity employee. Perhaps the most pressing concern is cyberattacks, whether through data breaches or other means. Some disgruntled ex-employees will purposefully sabotage the company they worked for. Others will make off with intellectual property or trade secrets that they may use to aid a competitor or even start their own competing business. And others do not have any ill-will towards the company at all, but will accidentally make off with data storage devices or other sensitive data.

While some may think these cases are extremely rare, they can and do happen on an alarmingly regular basis. In a 2020 report on insider incidents from the Ponemon Institute, they found that 23% of insider-related incidents were from malicious employees. In addition, the annual cost for addressing these threats amounted to $4.08 million. The survey also found that this is a growing threat, as insider incidents (including both negligence and malicious intent) have risen by 47% since 2018. As such, not only are these insider threats happening, but they are also growing annually.

How to Prevent Cyberattacks from Ex-Employees

If you are planning on terminating a cybersecurity employee in a relatively short time frame, there are some immediate measures you can take to protect your company:

Remove Access from All Accounts

To reduce the risk of a data breach or attack, it’s best to remove an employee’s access from any accounts. Many accounts make this process simple, allowing you to easily remove a user with the click of a button. Others may require steps such as enlisting IT help. Either way, time is of the essence when it comes to removing account access. Otherwise, the employee will most likely have access to sensitive data.

Retrieve Any Devices

Accidental data breaches are common when companies don’t keep track of what devices employees had before leaving. This is a crucial step to ensure company security. If there are any disk drives or other data storage devices, these should be removed immediately, as well as any company devices such as laptops. In addition, any data stored on the employee’s personal devices should be removed as well. Many IT professionals can complete this process remotely.

Change Passwords

Your company should be changing passwords regularly and using strong passwords anyway, but if you haven’t already, you should change all company passwords. This is especially the case for companies that don’t have multi-factor authentication enabled, as the password is the only barrier between them and the account in question.

Secure Common Cybersecurity Weak Points

Some cybersecurity weak points should be secured immediately if they are not already. Otherwise, it could have devastating effects on your organization. One of these weak points is email. If your email accounts are not secure, they could be hacked. Email is one of the most common ways to spread malware. In fact, in a 2019 report, Verizon found that 94% of malware is spread from emails. If malware spreads to your entire organization, it can be financially devastating to resolve.

Another weak point you should secure is Wi-Fi. An insecure connection makes it easy for employees to log any websites visited from company devices, steal log-in information, and more. Even if the passwords are changed after the employee is terminated, it’s possible they could find out the new password if your Wi-Fi is insecure.

Contact IT Immediately

In addition to all of the steps above, you will also want to contact your IT team or IT services provider to inform them of the impending termination. Experienced IT professionals will know both modern and timely solutions to existing security issues that may make it more likely for a cyberattack to be successful.

How to Terminate an Employee

In addition to implementing security measures prior to termination, there are certain guidelines that may make cyberattacks less likely. Keep in mind that, of course, an employee intending to do your company harm may choose to do so despite these precautions. However, they may mitigate risks.

The first is to respectfully terminate the employee. Be professional and polite towards them, and show empathy where appropriate. You may also choose to highlight how their skills contributed to your company to end things on a positive note. These measures may make employees less likely to feel disgruntled after leaving your company and resort to extreme measures.

The second is to conduct an exit interview. An exit interview will not only offer an open line of communication to make the employee you’re terminating feel heard but also will allow you to ask essential questions that will mitigate your risks further. For example, you can ask the employee directly if they have any devices containing company data. This will allow you to retrieve any remaining devices you may have neglected in your other security measures.

Proactive Steps to Reduce Attacks in the Future

After terminating a cybersecurity employee, it is important to take proactive solutions to reduce the risk of cyberattacks in the future. Here are some factors to consider:

Review Employment Contracts

Employment contracts should be reviewed to protect intellectual property. Having clear and specific guidelines against stealing trade secrets will make it easier to invoke potential legal action if the employee were to violate this contract in the future.

Keep Track of Inventory

Because some data breaches are caused by company devices falling into the wrong hands, companies need to keep detailed records of their inventory and device access. Ensure that when employees are given access to certain devices, that records are kept. This will make the device acquisition and removal process much easier in the future.

Consider Hiring Outsourced IT Help

If you have an internal IT team at the moment, you may want to consider switching to an outsourced IT service provider instead. Trusted IT service providers will have advanced technical experience to implement security solutions as soon as possible, which is especially important when you’re looking to terminate a cybersecurity employee. If you’re looking for an IT service provider for your cybersecurity and other IT needs, please contact us today for a free quote. Our team at MicroXpress will help you find optimized IT solutions for your business.

Thanks to the team at CEU Technologies for their help with this article.

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