Decreasing threat of employees' use of proprietary information


When most New Jersey business owners think of threats to their company, they may think of people from outside the company. Unfortunately, companies may overlook their own employees. These employees, who were once a company's most cherished assets, can use proprietary information to seek revenge on an employer. This is especially true if they were wronged by the company, or if they are making the decision to leave the company and stay in the same industry. That is why business owners need to be aware of this growing threat and understand how to reduce it.

One of the most important things companies can do is shut off employees' access to email and company databases immediately after they leave the company. By continuing to allow remote access, a company opens itself up to increased risks of misuse of information. Along the same line, companies should be continually monitoring each employee's data usage. That way, business owners can see exactly what employees are downloading or emailing to themselves. If any of the documents contain proprietary information, the company can then take the appropriate steps.

Many companies supply their employees with access to laptops or cell phones, so it is crucial to get these electronic devices back when the employee leaves. An organized company will be able to know which devices are being used by each employee. An up-to-date inventory is a key component of company security.

While these tips are useful, probably the best way to keep misuse of company information under control is to conduct exit interviews. Before the employee leaves the company, business owners should take this time to remind employees of their legal obligations. If they signed agreements, they must abide by them. In addition, be sure to get employees' current contact information in case legal issues arise.

Misuse of trade secrets can hurt a company while increasing the success of another. If a company finds information valuable, it should do its best to keep the information under wraps and take the time to prevent misuse from current and soon-to-be former employees.

Source: Entrepreneur, " 5 Ways to Shrink the Threat of an Employee's Exit to Proprietary Info," Eric Ostroff, April 29, 2014