As a business owner, you’ve probably faced the uncomfortable task of letting a valued (or not-so-valued) employee go. The reasons differ depending on the circumstances, but one thing is certain: they’re gone, and could potentially use their newfound resentment to strike your business where it hurts. How can you prepare yourself against the malice of former employees you may have once called “family?”
Almost Half of Employees Would Hold a Grudge if Fired
According to a Cyber-Ark survey, nearly half of all employees admitted that if they were to lose their jobs unexpectedly, they would take some form of retribution against their former employer, like taking the company’s data with them. These suddenly former employees have held down their jobs for years and felt secure about their current situation. Many employees feel that that the employer had done them wrong by firing them. It seems to be a part of human nature that, when prompted by the question, “if you were fired tomorrow, “people would react in such a manner.
Whether the actions of these employees are justified or not is for another discussion. What is important is that business owners have to consider the risks presented by irate former employees. If a unhappy team member steals something like office supplies, it is of little consequence; but if they make off with a bunch of business critical information, like database passwords, financial reports, or research plans, your business could be in for a real nasty treat.
Take it from Home Depot
IT sabotage from a disgruntled former employee isn’t a hypothetical situation. There exists a major real-world example of this recently happening with Home Depot. There was an incident where as many as 52 million credit card transactions were exposed. Unfortunately there is more to this story than hackers breaching a firewall. It turns out that in May of 2014, Home Depot’s former Senior Architect for IT Security was convicted of sabotaging the company’s network.
Ricky Joe Mitchell is the former Home Depot IT employee behind this mess. A more rigorous background check could have prevented this whole fiasco. According to ArsTechnica, Mitchell has a history of doing this with other employers like EnerVest Operating:
When Mitchell learned he was going to be fired […] he “remotely accessed EnerVest’s computer systems and reset the company’s network servers to factory settings, essentially eliminating access to all the company’s data and applications for its eastern United States operations,” a Department of Justice spokesperson wrote in a release on his conviction. “Before his access to EnerVest’s offices could be terminated, Mitchell entered the office after business hours, disconnected critical pieces of…network equipment, and disabled the equipment’s cooling system.” As a result of his actions, the company permanently lost some of its data and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing equipment and recovering historical data. It took a month to bring the company’s office back online, costing the company as much as $1 million in lost business.
It’s Your Responsibility to Protect Your Data.
Preventing a catastrophe like this is up to you, and it is your responsibility to close every access point associated with your disgruntled former employee. Preventing something of this magnitude from happening is of the utmost importance for your business and your clients. Before you let the employee go, you should start preparing for the upcoming fallout. It is possible that they will get the bright idea to walk off with valuable information that might land them a job with a competitor; or worse, disrupt your company infrastructure.
You have no idea what you can expect from a seemingly-normal former employee. Your best bet is to enact a standard set of procedures which will help you to thwart the former employee, should they decide they want to take a vital piece of information out the door with them. Immediately close off any access points which could allow the employee to steal information from your network, and monitor your system for unusual traffic from that individual.
In some cases the former employee may just try to make a quick buck. A former employee who was responsible for making company purchases, could abuse this authority and use company credit cards for unauthorized purchases. You need to immediately let your vendors know that any purchases from this team member should be denied or void. Remember, your budget is at risk, and therefore, so is your business. You can’t let a former team member be the reason that your budget is broken for the next several months.
How We Can Help
Quikteks can help your business with the difficult task of letting go staff members. We can’t help you break the news, but we can help you ensure your network is secure from the terminated employee.
You can rest easy knowing Quikteks is watching your company’s network, ensuring that each access point is protected against malicious intentions. All you need to do is let us know when a change in job status has occurred, and we can lock them out of your network for good. If they try to use mobile devices, we’ll block those too. If anything strange comes up, you’ll be the first to know.
It might seem like a small matter, but failing to secure your network against a very real threat is just dangerous. One single mistake can take down your entire company. Protect the future of your company by calling Quikteks. We’ll make sure unauthorized users stay out of your network. All you need to do is call (973) 882-4644.
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