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HomeEntrepreneurPreventing Data Theft by Employees: Causes and Best Practices 

Preventing Data Theft by Employees: Causes and Best Practices 

Among data breaches and cyberattacks, data theft made by employees is one of the worst because you’re never fully prepared, as a company owner, to experience such an occurrence. Although many reasons lead to employed or departing workers, businesses will never have the proper approach to prevent these happenings. At the same time, most organizations are not prepared in terms of cyber security as they don’t seem to priorities it too much, even if they’re aware of the consequences of data breaches. 

Workplace theft can be a severe challenge for many employers. It seems like, at least in the UK, employees steal around $50 million from companies annually, and a considerable number of these people are working in the company’s accounting or finance, which allows them to get more insight into the organization’s financial situation. 

The types of employees who steal are also various. Some workers start with inventory theft and end up skimming or embezzling, which causes the business to suffer numerous disadvantages. But what are the causes?

What are the Types of Employees Prone to Stealing Data?

Only some people are able to perform a data breach. It implies further planning and knowledge of the company’s systems, as well as knowing the rest of the employees and managers well. Therefore, some types of people are prone to doing such things:

1) Employees with the highest levels of access. Sometimes, these people in high positions are in an advantageous place to steal data with, and it’s less likely they’ll be discovered.

2) Employees facing financial distress. It’s common for people to struggle financially, and sometimes, when some of them have the opportunity, they might steal data to accept bribes, sell sensitive data or intellectual property to competitors.

3) Employees with poor track records. It’s safe to say that employing people who have done something wrong in the past can be a mistake, but at least you should be careful of them and expect something bad from them.

4) Employees who are involved in a conflict. It’s easy to spot such people because they’re always causing or continuing a competition, which leads to them wanting to get revenge and sabotage others.

5) Departing employees. Intellectual property theft usually happens within the period before an employee’s resignation announcement since they’re planning it so they can’t be accused of stealing data.

What Indicators Show the Possibility of Data Theft by Employees?

Dealing with data theft might be easy because according to you can get employees in court and prove that they’ve been affecting the company financially. However, you need to be wary of the signs which can sign a data theft:

1) You notice them plugging in unknown USB devices through which they can copy data and access it from their personal smartphones or laptops. 

2) Employees are accessing sensitive files without a work-related reason, especially at the end of the programs or before everyone gets to work.

3) Employees upload sensitive work data to their personal cloud storage accounts. In some cases, employees doing this do not intend to use data but to work from home, for example, but this is a serious threat that must be addressed.

4) You notice they’re deleting files and backups of their own work or others, which can affect your internal servers’ organizations pretty much.

What are the Outcomes of Data Theft by Employees?

There can be only adverse outcomes from employees stealing data, especially when departing. For example, you can face external audits and fines for non-compliance in keeping secure sensitive financial, medical or personal records data. Confidentiality breaches are also possible because such an occurrence can break the trust of your customers. Finally, you’re prone to losing your competitive advantage as departing employees commonly steal designs, software codes and other intellectual property assets, but losing customers is the most possible. 

How Can you Prevent Data Theft by Employees?

When trying to protect sensitive data, it’s best to be transparent about your approaches. That’s because some employees might get the idea you don’t trust them when the truth is that you only want to secure information. Luckily, there are many ways to do that, such as the following:

1) Zero-trust method. This step involves limiting user access so that the device with sensitive information doesn’t trust any user or device trying to get access. In this case, choosing one-time passwords and manual access approval is best. At the same time, managing access rights by setting up role-based access control and verifying people’s identities with multi-factor authentication is necessary. 

2) Monitor activity for departing employees. Getting software solutions to monitor the devices of departing employees is best because you can see if there’s any suspicious activity at any time, which can prevent data breaches from occurring.

3) Implement USB device management. This step is necessary as using unknown USB devices is the most common practice of employees stealing data. Such a system detects when someone connects a suspicious USB to a company’s device and blocks it immediately.

Finally, the best thing to do is to plan your response in advance and be prepared for anything that might occur. If you’re not sure what are the possible outcomes, you can simply search for the most common practices and have a plan for each situation so that you can act right away. This is especially necessary if your business is medium large-sized because more employees mean more susceptible conditions. Of course, it would be best to solve issues between employees and try to provide them with solutions to different altercations. Still, sometimes people can be a little more defensive and choose revenge in a violent way. 

Bottom Line 

Data theft by employees might be one of a business’s most surprising and unpleasant challenges. That’s because some of the workers doing this have been trusted all along, while others had positions of power. However, regardless of the person doing it, you need to look for suspicious activities and make sure to take action in time so that you can minimize the adverse outcomes of financial losses and a bad reputation. 

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