7 Ways Your Employees May be Putting Your Company’s Data at Risk

Your company has an IT department to help reduce communication and security issues. And while the IT department knows your company’s sensitive information and deals with it every day, how do you know your other employees are exercising the same level of caution? Could they be putting your company at risk? Even in the most secure institutions, employees are the wild card, and some of that data could slip through the cracks.

Several recent surveys show that employees can do this in multiple ways. In this article, we’ll check out some of the ways employees put your information at risk. You’ll also find, sometimes, preventive measures you can take to avoid any information leaking.

1. Making Use of Third-Party File Transfer Apps


Image via Flickr by 4nitsirk

Many companies policies don’t allow use of third-party file transfer apps, but when your employee has to share a 50 megabyte file with another, he or she might feel motivated to work around the system. File transfer apps allow you to pretty easily share information with one-another. Unfortunately, these applications put the information out of the hands of the company, where anything can happen.

If you want to avoid problems like this, consider getting an internal system that allows the same freedom of sharing, like using BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry’s mdm (mobile device management) solutions are perfect for keeping information secure and all running within the same system, with quick and smooth data sharing between devices on various platforms. This way, you can easily send files back and forth between anybody in the company, while monitoring and managing the activity.

2. Using Personal E-mail for Work

Many businesses use e-mail systems that don’t work incredibly fast, and have restrictions on the amount of date you can send in one message. Employees often like to avoid this by using a third part e-mail which provides quicker service and allows for large attachments. Information can easily be accessed from third-party e-mail by people who shouldn’t access it. Once it’s out of the business e-mail, your company doesn’t have full control over it anymore.

3. Putting Files in the Unsecured Cloud

Storing data and files via cloud systems has become incredibly popular in recent years, and your employees undoubtedly love to take advantage of it as well. But, it turns out that cloud systems like Dropbox and iCloud often put companies’ data at risk. Often, accessing these cloud storage files doesn’t even need a password. So, anybody who really wants to get their hands on that information doesn’t have to work too hard. The bottom line: Make sure any cloud storage system you use is secure.

4. Committing Data Theft

Unfortunately, surveys have shown that about half of all employees, whether they quit or lose their job, keep secure information about the company to use at their next job. So, while some employees carry out the work by protecting the information they’ve been entrusted with, the rest of them deliberately take your confidential information to help ensure them a position at another company.

What’s the best way to avoid this? Keep your employees happy. Do your best not to inconvenience them too much. The digital world leans more and more towards convenience every day, especially from a consumer standpoint, and the lines between the consumer and business aspects of the digital world continue to blur. So, give them a system which allows them to do their job well, and they have less reason to steal your information and work for somebody who gives them a bit more freedom.

5. Using Flash Drives and External Hard Drives

Using flash drives and external hard drives, or even using cell phones and other mobile devices in the same way, can cause security risks as well. It seems safe; the information never hits the airwaves or the internet this way. The problem here lies in that the information rarely gets deleted. Flash drives, especially, rarely get cleared out unless people want to make room for more data.

6. Over-Sharing on Social Networks

Just like using a different e-mail, employees often use other online applications for work. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have all become incredibly popular mediums, even for businesses. Especially when it comes to advertising or keeping customers updated on company activity. There’s a fine line between sharing information pertinent to the customers and sharing too much.

7. Opening Files via Third Party Applications

Since people do so much work on their mobile device, they often open files (like word documents) in a third-party application. It’s great to get work done while on the go, but they usually do this by opening the information on an unsecure application, such as QuickOffice or Evernote. While this doesn’t pose as high of a risk as other third-party application uses, it still puts the information out of the hands of your company. The programs just don’t offer good security for your corporate data.

So, what’s the key here? You want to make sure the most sensitive information always stays within your company’s system, and that you have clear policies in place for the devices accessing it. And it helps to keep your employees happy, too.

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