By Robert May, Managing Director of leading IT solutions consultancy ramsac

The affects of recession have become even starker with the recent announcement that UK unemployment has now reached two million — a 12 year high. The vast majority of this increase can be attributed to redundancy as some companies struggle to survive. In some cases this is due to bankruptcy, but it is also largely due to businesses cutting staff numbers because of falling business and the need to streamline operations. Companies that find themselves in the latter category may not realise it, but they face a greater potential risk of security breaches with the flow of redundant staff.

Making sure that a business’ security can deal with the flow of staff needn’t be a headache. Although there is definitely a risk to security for any business making staff redundant, either through malicious intent, or the inevitable movement of people and company property, sensible and logical steps can be taken to minimise the risk that should be followed even in more stable economic conditions. With staff leaving there may be an emotional response that gives some leeway to a lapse in protocols, but this really is a time when, if anything, there should be more vigilance.

There are a number of key points that all businesses should consider with regards to IT security and the protection of sensitive/competitor-sensitive information:

• Passwords and security codes — Immediately closing unneeded email accounts and changing login details for shared resources reduces the ability for unauthorised use.

• Systems access should only be given to members of staff who actually need the resources.

• Employees should be made aware of the potential for data leaks and the need for information to only be distributed to relevant and trusted sources.

• Managed Access and blocking or close control over the use of USB sticks or portable hard drives is essential.

• Ensure hardware is returned — laptops and smartphones are key areas of potential data loss.

• Ensure that the IT provision is maintained and the knowledge of systems is documented and maintained when staff leave.

• Use a defined process for new and leaving members of staff, including general building security, to stop unwarranted physical access to company systems.

• Ensure IT security software, such as antivirus and firewall protection, is up to date.

Whilst these points are particularly prevalent during times of redundancy, they are always relevant and should also form part of ongoing overall business continuity IT strategy. ramsac offers customers a complete IT systems healthcheck to identify potential problems and advise on ongoing, long-term strategies to fully secure a company network.

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