Five Tips for Information Security during Layoffs

Steven Hastert
August 27, 2009 — 2,688 views  
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A laid off employee is a tremendous threat to the information of a business. Before any pink slips are handed out make sure your information, both paper and electronic, is secure. The news is getting more positive for the economy and it looks like the U.S. is coming out of the recession, but many small business owners are still struggling to meet payroll. In these uncertain times, laying off employees is, unfortunately, still very much a part of the picture.

When working for you, employees are supposed to be part of the team that builds your success. When they leave, they can contribute equally to your downfall -- especially if they take sensitive documents -- including your customer list and marketing plans as they walk out the door.

There's always the employee who has the mindset; "If they let me go, I'm going to make them pay." They believe that they have been wronged by appearing on the corporate layoff list and leave some malicious program that can interrupt your computers, steal your marketing list, or send unauthorized notices to customers.

Prudent business owners and office managers should take steps to limit the type of information employees can take with them when they are laid off.

As part of the layoff process, have the employee submit to an exit interview with the Human Resource Department. As part of a severance agreement, have them sign a document that limits what type of information they will take off the premises. At this interview, be sure to collect any handheld devices, smart phones and cell phones, in addition to any PCs and laptops. Be sure to confiscate the person's security cards and company ID.

Make sure the IT department understands the worker's access to the network, applications, servers and the physical building. You need to close any remote connections, including PC anywhere and virtual private networks (VPN). You will also need to change passwords on any third party applications and web sites the employee accessed on behalf of the company.

After the employee leaves, clean out the employee's desk and files. Create a pile for shredding and either include it with your company's regular shredding day, or call a shredding service for a one-time shred.

If the person worked in IT, change root access and all network access. Don't forget to delete any test accounts or global accounts the employee accessed.

If you are able, offer a financial cushion package to maintain some level of good will. Help the employee get in touch with workplace solutions companies. A little good will goes a long way toward easing the pain of a layoff.

About the Author

For shredding at your business give Shred Nations a call. They are experts in protecting your sensitive business information. They also recycle all the paper shreds.

Steven Hastert