To help employees fulfill their professional initiatives, enterprises must provide a variety of physical and digital tools that enable the employees to take full advantage of enterprise data and resources. When the employees move on to different jobs, however, rolling back on all the capabilities that the enterprises once gave to their employees is another important duty. After all, departing employees can be either direct or indirect causes of data leaks, whether accidental or malicious.
To prevent departing employees from leaking confidential data, enterprises have been implementing several conventional measures like establishing policies, preparing legal documentation like a non-disclosure agreement, training/education sessions, and deactivating accounts used by ex-employees (PC, devices, cloud and more). Perhaps these can be considered to be enough to prevent leakage of confidential data; however, they are only focused on “discouraging” employees from leaking data when they depart. Instead, enterprises need to implement technological measures to actually “stop” data leaks from occurring.
1) Consolidate all files into a data repository equipped with data leakage controls and real-time monitoring
Preventing data leaks by departing employees begins with consolidation and isolation of confidential enterprise files in data repositories and away from individual employee PCs, which can become exit points from which confidential data can be wrongfully leaked, deleted, or edited.
However, this security measure is just the basic foundation of security architecture to prevent data leaks by departing employees. Therefore, by integrating data leakage controls to restrict copying, screen-capturing, printing, and network-transferring the files out of file servers, can enterprises form multi-layered and tighter protection of confidential data.
If the employees need to bring confidential data out to their local storage for certain tasks, enterprises must ensure that all relevant activities regarding the files and users are tracked with logs. Logs are important for both preventative and corrective action as a response to data leaks by departing or departed employees since enterprises can not only detect wrongdoing beforehand but also identify the wrongdoers even after they have quit.
2) Control and manage portable storage device usage on endpoint PCs
Employees now have more kinds of portable storage devices, like USB drives and smartphones, at their disposal for better and improved work performance. However, these devices must be used under the organization-wide enforcement of strict control and thorough management to ensure that those devices do not leave the office premises with confidential data inside.
Together with enterprise policies and culture that discourage the use of storage devices for purposes other than those work-related, a series of technological measures must be implemented to deter employees from doing so. Firstly, enterprises must block the ports (USB, IEEE 1394, and so on) on the PCs used by the employees. By doing so, not only existing but also soon-to-depart employees cannot use portable storage devices to take confidential data from enterprise premises, whether such action was done by mistake or with malice. However, blocking all ports may not be the best option, if the enterprises require permitting specific ports for specific tasks or employees. For this case, it is imperative to implement a management tool that oversees all ports and connected devices on all employee PCs, and that is capable of enforcing and lifting restrictions for specific circumstances.
3) Wiping used hard disks before disposing or recycling used PCs after employee departures
When employees depart, it is common for enterprises first to format the used PCs, and then re-assign or destroy (if outdated) them. Unfortunately, this practice may trigger unexpected data leaks, as the remnant files that contain or are relevant to enterprise confidential data can be recovered, even though the PCs have been formatted beforehand.
Therefore, to prevent data leaks by recovery, enterprises must wipe remnant data on old PCs by using data erasure solutions like degaussing, overwriting with randomized data, or even the physical destruction of PCs. These three solutions achieve the same goal of data erasure, but only one provides enterprises with an extra advantage: overwriting wipes remnant data completely and maintains the disks as usable, while the other two methods do not. Thus the disks overwritten with randomized data can be recycled to be assigned to new employees, and the enterprises will not have to worry about possible rediscovery and leakage of remnant data.
When employees depart, enterprises must think beyond handling more paperwork and recruitment, as their confidential data can, or even worse, could have been at risk of being leaked. The biggest issue with data leaks by departing employees is the increased difficulty of identifying who the wrongdoers are, and of taking a course of corrective actions. The three key measures mentioned above address the importance of data leakage prevention before and after departing employees, whether their involvement direct or indirect. Check our next blog to see how Secudrive solutions bring these measures into practice for enterprises, whether big or small, to ensure that confidential data do not leave along with the departing employees.