What Your Employees Know About Your Business
What your employees know about your business might keep you up at night if you really thought about it. In some cases the employee may have greater targeted knowledge or access to data than the owners, principals, executive team, or directors.
What your employees know about your business may be of strategic value and provide that competitive edge. It may be the special sauce that took the company years to develop and it may walk out the door prior to any exit interview or tender of resignation.
Recent surveys, media reports, prosecutions, and our investigations show an alarming number of ex-employees stealing company data, including when changing jobs. Compromised data may include customer lists, contact information, know how, and other forms of intellectual property. The majority do so in order to benefit in some financial arrangement or assist with a new job. A recent theft of a proprietary trading platform at a major Wall Street financial institution is under investigation. The platform enabled the firm to generate millions of trading profits each year.
There is a growing pervasive sense of entitlement to works for hire. Access to computers and technology without appropriate controls makes such theft inviting and simple for those inclined. How these thefts occur and remain undetected for extended periods of time has much more to do with the lax protective measures in place within the organization then the skills of the perpetrator.
In our investigative experience we have seen far too many cases where there is employee theft, limited binding agreements, no procedural or technical controls or measures, and far too much blind faith and trust extended to those who are not trustworthy.
Forgive me if my experiences make me appear cynical but I have seen thieves rob charities, business owner’s life’s work compromised by over zealous employees, and organizations hobbled and made vulnerable by employees gone bad.
Too often the lack of detective measures, extended periods before suspicion and investigation, further compounded by the lack of protocol in disengaging employees compromises critical evidence. Lacking sustentative evidence, it is increasingly complex and costly for the organization to pursue justice in what may have been otherwise a clearly defined case.
Organizations must take comprehensive controls and measures seriously to avoid a potentially devastating event precipitated by a individual to which the organization has extended its trust. This starts with the appropriate legal, technical, and procedural controls from engagement through discharge, employer beware.