Did you know 59% of employees steal sensitive and confidential information from the company they work for? And I'm pretty sure you don't want your information to end up in your competitors' hands, having your ex-employee using it to start his own business to compete with you, or even risk the wrath of POPI when your employee sells private information.
But you don't have to panic, here's what you can do to protect yourself and your information...
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3 Weapons to protect your business against insider information theft
Tell employees that any information you disclose to them about your business is confidential. If they don't, or if they choose not to understand that your work is confidential, here are 3 ways to legally protect your valuable information.
1. Implement an electronic communication and security policy. Make all your staff responsible to keep your IT and company information safe. Implement an electronic communication and security policy, which must be signed by all of your staff. You can find a sample in our Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.
2. Add clauses to your employment contracts to protect information and emphasise that company information is confidential. If your employees don't comply, whether they've left yet or not, you'll be able to sue them for damages to your company.
3. Do random monitoring and interception checks on your employee's computer to determine if he's playing by the rules. Remember: You'll need your employee's written consent to do this. Include a provision in his employment contract or in your electronic communication and security policy (Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 70 of 2002).
It's up to you to make sure every employee knows your policies apply to him, without exception. Make any such abuse a disciplinary offence, and take action against employees who breach company confidentiality. Remind employees of your disciplinary code and procedure that it's gross misconduct, and you'll dismiss
them even if it's a first offence.
Apart from implementing these legal practices, you can also enforce some good company practices…
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Enforce these company practices
Make sure your employees know you're serious about protecting your company information. Encourage employees to inform you if colleagues breach it. Explain the losses the company can suffer if certain information falls into the wrong hands, and that in serious circumstances the business could even close.
When an employee gives notice or you give him notice, check his hard drives to see if he's taken information he has no right to. If he has, tell him to return it and warn that you'll lay criminal charges and institute a civil claim for damages if you receive any hint he's using it.
Ensure everyone sends confidential information by encrypted email, or do it the old-fashioned way and courier/hand–deliver it. This makes it easier to track who's seen the information.
Forbid employees from writing passwords on Post-It notes and sticking them on their monitors to avoid employees, customers or anyone else seeing them.
So, make sure you cover your business from every angle. You can get your hands on every employee sample template you'll need here…