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Remote Employee Departures: Is Your Company Data Safe?

Mar 21, 2024

In this evolving age of corporate connectivity, employees are allowed – and often encouraged –  to access systems containing intellectual property (IP) while working from home and just about anywhere else. However, there’s a downside to this convenience. Much of this data can be saved locally, moved to external devices, and even saved on mobile phones without proper security controls. Companies need to consider the following before remote employees leave the company:

  • If an employee was departing, would your company know that they took IP with them? 
  • Would your company be alerted if IP was sent to a personal account or device prior to their last day? 
  • Would it be stopped? 
  • If not, how could your company get notified when data leaves the security of your infrastructure?

Many questions arise when a remote employee leaves an organization. Unfortunately, without proper data security controls these individuals can – intentionally or unintentionally – take IP and the company might not find out until it is in the hands of competitors. Here’s some ways to protect your company’s critical data:

Enhance Your Infrastructure

One way to keep company IP secure is to tighten the security posture within your enterprise. Properly configured solutions such as data loss prevention (DLP) can alert information security staff when data is moved from one device to another, or even sent outbound via email or cloud upload. These alerts can be pivotal in identifying internal threats, allowing for quick response to employees taking data before departure whether they are at home or in the office. 

Create a Playbook

Once a plan for enhancing infrastructure is in place, organizations can create remote employee offboarding playbooks, process documents, and workflows that focus on employee departure and include the activity review of logging generated by security infrastructure. These logs would include alerts from DLP and even review of web security devices to allow the security team time to ascertain if any IP has left the company’s custody. 

Make an Assessment Plan

Creating a departing employee assessment plan gives companies a standard process to follow. The assessment documents the employee role, the type of devices they have, and the data they can access. For example, if active directory is utilized in the environment, IT staff can document what data the departing employee may be able to view, move, or delete. When this assessment is complete, administrators can remove access to ensure no data can be retrieved.. Information security staff can monitor these systems prior to the employee’s departure, ensuring data at rest stays at rest. 

Invest in Cyber Security

If a senior level executive or senior manager in product design resigned tomorrow, how confident is your organization in the security of the data they own or manage? Would there be an alert if some IP data was saved externally or sent to a personal email or cloud system? Some would argue that they are satisfied with their data security, but there are plenty of enterprises that are simply not prepared for the impact and potential risk exposure of departing employees. Planning for and being prepared for data security is a smart investment that allows stakeholders to sleep soundly at night.  

If you have questions about how to better prepare your organization for employee terminations and departures, reach out to our digital forensics team at .

About the Author

Alex Kirkland

Alex Kirkland

Alex Kirkland is a certified digital forensic, eDiscovery, information security, and data governance professional whose role at CDS includes performing complex data collections and computer forensic investigations as well as consulting with internal teams and external clients on cyber investigation response, information security, and data risk governance.