The massive wave of layoffs in 2024 brings a cybersecurity threat that most business owners aren’t focusing on – offboarding employees. Even big-name brands, which you would expect to have top-of-the-line cybersecurity systems, often fail to protect themselves from insider threats. This August marks a year since two disgruntled Tesla employees, after being let go, exposed the personal information of over 75,000 people, including employees.

This issue is expected to get worse. According to NerdWallet, as of May 24, 2024, 298 US-based tech companies have laid off 84,600 workers and counting. This includes major layoffs at companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, as well as smaller tech start-ups. In total, around 257,254 jobs were eliminated in the first quarter of 2024 alone.

Whether or not you’ll need to downsize your team this year, having a proper offboarding process in place is essential to every business, big or small, because it’s more than a routine administrative task – it’s a critical security precaution. Failing to revoke access for former employees can lead to serious business and legal implications later.

The Risks of Inadequate Offboarding

Theft of Intellectual Property: Employees can sneak away with your company’s files, client data, and confidential information stored on personal devices. They may also retain access to cloud-based applications like social media and file-sharing sites (e.g., Dropbox or OneDrive) that your IT department may overlook.

A study by Osterman Research revealed that 69% of businesses experience data loss due to employee turnover, and 87% of employees who leave take data with them. This stolen information is often sold to competitors, used by them when hired by the competition or used by former employees to become competitors themselves. Any way you cut it, it hurts your business.

Compliance Violations: Failing to revoke access privileges and remove employees from authorized user lists can register you as non-compliant in heavily regulated industries. This simple mistake can result in large fines, hefty penalties, and even legal consequences.

Data Deletion: If an employee feels unfairly laid off and retains access to their accounts, they could easily delete all their emails and any critical files. If that data isn’t backed up, you will lose it all.

Data Breach: This is perhaps the most terrifying risk. Unhappy employees who feel wronged can make you the star of the next devastating data breach headline, incurring a costly lawsuit. It could be as simple as making one click and downloading, exposing, or modifying your clients’ or employees’ private information, financial records, or trade secrets.

How to Properly Offboard an Employee

Implement the Principle of Least Privilege: Successful offboarding starts with proper onboarding. New employees should only be given access to the files and programs they need to do their jobs. This should be meticulously documented to make offboarding easier.

Leverage Automation: Your IT team can use automation to streamline revoking access to multiple software applications simultaneously, saving time and resources while reducing the likelihood of manual errors.

Implement Continuous Monitoring: Software that tracks user activity on the company network can help identify suspicious behavior by an unauthorized user and determine if a former employee retains access to private accounts.

These are only a few ways your IT team can help improve your offboarding process to make it more efficient and secure. Insider threats can be devastating, and if you think this can’t happen to you, think again. You must be proactive in protecting your organization.

To find out if any gaps in your offboarding process expose you to theft or a data breach, our team will do a free, in-depth risk assessment to help you resolve it. Call us at 405-896-5464  or click here to book now.