In today’s digital age, where organisations heavily rely on technology and data, ensuring strong Cyber Security practices is paramount, and one often overlooked aspect, is the departure of staff members.
The departure of an employee can introduce vulnerabilities and risks if not handled properly. Establishing a well-defined process for staff departures is crucial not only for maintaining operational continuity but also for safeguarding sensitive information from potential cyber threats. Chris White, member of International Cyber Expo‘s Advisory Council, and Head of Cyber and Innovation, The South East Cyber Resilience Centre (SECRC) offers his thoughts on the subject:
- When an employee leaves, their access to systems, networks, and databases must be immediately revoked. Forgotten or lingering access credentials can become a backdoor for cybercriminals to gain unauthorised entry. By following a process, organisations can systematically terminate an employee’s access to all relevant accounts and platforms, reducing the risk of data breaches and insider threats
- Employees often have access to sensitive company information, client data, and proprietary resources. Without a proper process in place, departing employees might retain copies of such data, putting it at risk of unauthorised exposure or misuse.
- By ensuring a comprehensive data inventory and implementing strict data retention policies, organisations can reduce the likelihood of valuable information falling into the wrong hands.
- When an employee leaves, all company-issued devices such as laptops, smartphones, and access cards should be collected promptly. These devices might contain sensitive data or access points that could be exploited by cyber attackers. An established process for equipment retrieval ensures that potential vulnerabilities are addressed and mitigated.
- A departure can result in a loss of organisational knowledge. If not managed properly, this loss could lead to security gaps in the organisation’s defences. By systematically documenting roles, responsibilities, and procedures, and by cross-training employees, organisations can maintain a well-prepared workforce that is capable of upholding cybersecurity standards.
- Insider Threats—threats posed by current or former employees—are a significant cybersecurity concern. Following a strict process during staff departures minimises the risk of disgruntled employees intentionally causing harm to the organisation’s digital infrastructure. Proper off-boarding procedures, including exit interviews, can help identify potential insider threats and pre-emptively address any concerns.
- Organisations are often subject to various legal and regulatory requirements concerning data protection and privacy. Failure to properly manage staff departures could result in non-compliance and legal repercussions. Following a process ensures that the organisation adheres to all relevant regulations, safeguarding both its reputation and legal standing.
- A departure can disrupt ongoing projects and operations, potentially creating opportunities for cyber threats to exploit the chaos. By having a clear process in place, organisations can ensure that essential tasks are transitioned seamlessly, and critical cybersecurity measures remain intact. Get in touch with The South East Cyber Resilience Centre for some assistance in this area.
- A good solution is Cyber Essentials which is an effective, Government backed minimum standard scheme that will help you to protect your organisation, whatever its size, against a whole range of the most common cyber attacks. For example, How do you ensure you have deleted, or disabled, any accounts for staff who are no longer with your organisation? We can provide the resources to achieve a suitable solution to answer this.
In conclusion, the departure of a staff member should not be taken lightly, especially when considering the potential harm, it poses to cyber security. Establishing a well-defined process for staff departures is vital for protecting an organisation’s sensitive data, maintaining operational continuity, and mitigating cybersecurity risks.
Chris White will be in attendance at International Cyber Expo 2023, so do stop by London Olympia on the 26th and 27th of September 2023!
To register for FREE, visit: https://ice-2023.reg.buzz/eskenzi