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Avoiding Security Breaches Post-Termination

August 26, 2014
post termination office security
Large businesses tend to have lawyer-refined protocols in place for terminating an employee because firing staff comes with a great deal of security risk. Organizations have to protect themselves. Small businesses face that same level of risk and often have even more to lose. Although small businesses may not have a human resources department and a large army of lawyers, they can still protect themselves by identifying the concerns and putting safeguards in place to protect against them.

Be Prepared for a Range of Emotions

Big companies often have so many employees that each individual worker is little more than a number to a lawyer or HR department. This does have its advantages, such as during termination. All employees are treated the same. In a small business, people are more prone to treat employees differently. Most people will leave a business in a professional manner. Who is to say why that one percent will choose anger, bitterness and possibly revenge? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Building Security is a Priority

The vast majority of security breaches performed by disgruntled employees are physical in nature and occured at the site where the individual worked. If the building is accessed through traditional locks, then all keys should be returned and/or all locks should be replaced the day of termination–this must be viewed as a cost of doing business. Change all access codes for alarm systems as well. If the business uses a door entry system, or access control system, it’s necessary to disable that badge ID or take whatever similar measures are necessary to prevent unwanted entry.

Establish Awareness

The best building security can be undermined by a lack of awareness. Often, a business will want to respect a terminated employee’s right to privacy and dignity, but in doing so, will expose itself to a security threat. Although there is no need to explain the termination, there is a need to ensure that all employees and vendors understand that the individual has been terminated. It is also a good idea for the business to establish a protocol in the case that the fired employee comes to the building.

Securing the Cloud is Essential

Security breaches do not just occur within the company’s physical location. They can occur from an Internet café, a parking lot outside the building or the comfort of the individual’s home. The cloud is at particular risk because it is intended to be accessed by employees remotely. If a department is using an internet service like DropBox that a terminated employee still has access to, then the company can lose sensitive data.

Therefore, while it is important for the company to secure its servers and the cloud services that it controls, it is also important to inform people throughout the business to change passwords and the like. The value of awareness cannot be stressed enough. It is also of great value to establish protocols for terminations and to refine these protocols over time, as these will make the transition for the remaining employees much easier and seamless.