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Protecting your data from employee theft

Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

[fa icon="clock-o"] 9 January 2015 [fa icon="user"] Paul Weeden [fa icon="folder-open'] security

IT security is largely discussed in relation to external threats from cyber-attacks and hackers. In reality, these threats may come from closer sources, such as your employees. As the economy grows and more employees break away to set up their own ventures or work for competitors, how can you ensure your client database is protected?

Although difficult to completely prevent an employee from using your data for ill-intended purposes, there are practical steps you can take to make this more difficult. We highlight our top tips for protecting your data and outline the tools available to provide an audit trail in the event of misconduct.

Protecting your data

For your data to be stolen, it needs to be transmitted. Protecting this data requires;

  • As few exit points as possible
  • The remaining points to be monitored and audited

Protecting your data exit points

  • USBs / Removable Media: As completely un-monitored and unsecured methods of transfer, we recommend you block access to USB ports, other than for keyboards and mobile phone charging. Instead, we suggest using one of the numerous secure and fully audited file sharing websites that are available.
  • Mobiles Devices: Often overlooked as a method of information transfer, mobile phones now have the ability to access all of your data. Unlike with a laptop, when an employee leaves, they generally retain their phone and with it, all of your data. Mobile device management systems, such as Airwatch, enable you to wipe all company data remotely, without touching personal data.
  • Email: As the single most important form of business communication, ensuring you have a record of all email communication is important. Systems, such as Mimecast, integrate seamlessly with your email system to provide a full tamper proof audit trail of email communication, allowing you to investigate emails sent by an individual and provide documented evidence.
  • Web Filtering: Information transferred through personal email accounts is more difficult to monitor and brings us onto the internet as an exit point. Web filtering allows you to restrict certain websites and monitor the browsing history of all employee. Technically, this is relatively simple and cost effective to implement but has wider cultural and productivity implications. From a data transmission perspective, web filtering should be viewed in conjunction with file access monitoring.
  • File Access Monitoring: Specialist file sharing systems, such as Share File and Box, record every time a user opens, previews or downloads a file. This information can be extremely useful in the event of an investigation. It helps to build a picture of when information was accessed and with web filtering, when it was potentially transmitted.

The aforementioned systems and processes cannot stop employees from taking your data but they can make it more difficult by providing documented evidence. No one system can provide complete protection, but when implemented together and as part of your wider IT strategy, they can help to build a comprehensive picture of events.

For more information on any of these recommendations or to discuss the security of your systems in general, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

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