The number one data protection problem faced by organizations – cited by 69% – is the loss of data or knowledge suffered when employees leave the company.

That is the finding of a new study by IT research and consulting firm,Osterman Research, entitled, "Best Practices for Protecting Your Data When Employees Leave Your Company". The report found significant evidence that employee turnover and attrition can lead to egregious data loss.

The report explains that while there are generalized problems associated with the loss of corporate knowledge and expertise when employees leave, many of these problems are related to employees actually taking data with them when they depart, or leaving it in locations that are unknown or inaccessible to corporate data managers.

"Whether its premeditated or simply in error, many employees leave their employers with a wide variety of data types that can include confidential or sensitive financial data, customer information, and/or product, sales and marketing roadmaps, as well as other business critical intellectual property," said Michael Osterman, CEO and Founder, Osterman Research. "This can leave a business organization vulnerable to regulations noncompliance, litigation, a loss in competitive edge and even embarrassing bad press with long-term ramifications - the kind that can curb an otherwise promising IT career. And of course, it could also simply mean the information you need to get your job done just isn't there."

Osterman continued, "There are however policies, procedures and technology solutions that can be proactively put into place that minimize, even eliminate, the potential for data exfiltration."

The paper goes on to describe in detail the top policies, procedures and technologies that can be employed to protect sensitive and confidential data assets from departing employees. Among the topics explored in the study:

  • The top problems related to data protection
  • Why employees leave with corporate data
  • Signs of unusual behavior - potential "tells" that an employee is planning to steal corporate data
  • The consequences of data exfiltration
  • The top policies, procedures and technologies to protect against data exfiltration
  • A checklist for managing a successful employee departure process

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