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What should you do if an employee steals company data?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2021 | Uncategorized

Most of your employees likely have at least some access to your company networks. This puts you in a difficult position, because while their access may be minimal, they still have the opportunity to steal company data.

It’s a good idea for you to take steps to protect yourself against this risk and to have a plan of action in place if you do believe an employee is stealing data from you. Here is more on what you should do if you think an employee is stealing company data from you.

  1. Get evidence

The first thing to do is to get evidence. You might see that a particular IP address is linked to stolen data, but that doesn’t necessarily link a specific user. Check surveillance videos to place the employee at the computer and make sure your IT team gets the digital fingerprints to match the data theft.

  1. Be swift about discipline

Next, it’s smart to be swift about discipline. Whatever your company’s policy is, follow it. That might mean firing the individual immediately, locking down their access or taking other steps. If this is an at-will employee, now may be the time to terminate them to prevent further issues.

  1. Get the authorities involved

Even if you do not pursue charges, it’s smart to have the police take a record of the incident. Don’t tell the employee that you’re calling the police, so that there is the best chance of recovering stolen data and catching them off-guard.

If it is a former employee who is sharing data from your company, you can do a few other things. Sending a cease and desist letter or filing a civil lawsuit will both give you the opportunity to shut down their behavior. Civil suits may help you obtain compensation for any damage that was caused by the data breach.

Preventing this kind of issue in the future starts with you and your policies. Make sure you’re setting up strong protections, so you can fight back if employees take your data. Clauses in your employment contract should describe the penalties, so employees will be less likely to risk stealing from you.