The term ‘Offboarding Employees’ refers to the steps you need to go through as an organization to make an employee’s exit as smooth as possible. When it comes to managing employees, the focus is often on onboarding new employees. However, it is equally important to establish proper procedures for terminating employment. This ensures that when an employee leaves the company, their access to sensitive information and systems is quickly and securely revoked.
The Importance of Offboarding & Security
Failure to revoke access rights can lead to unauthorized data breaches, intellectual property theft, or even internal sabotage. As cybersecurity experts, we therefore cannot stress enough the importance of securely terminating employees’ employment. By implementing the right termination procedures, you mitigate the aforementioned risks and preserve the integrity of your company’s sensitive data.
Preparing to leave
The process of terminating employment begins before the employee actually leaves. Transition planning includes several proactive measures. Think of conducting exit interviews, documenting access rights, and creating a checklist to ensure nothing is overlooked. This preparation lays the foundation for a smooth and secure termination process.
Revoking access rights
Revoking access rights is a critical step in terminating employment. It is essential to perform this carefully and thoroughly to ensure that departed employees no longer have access to company systems and confidential data. Below are the key steps you should take to effectively revoke access rights:
- Identify all accounts and systems: List all accounts and systems to which the employee has access. This includes not only internal company systems but also external platforms and applications that the employee may have had access to.
- Verify rights and privileges: Verify the rights and privileges granted to the employee. This includes checking access levels, administrator privileges, and specific permissions within systems and applications.
- Create a timeframe: Set a timeframe for revoking access rights. Make sure this is in line with the employee’s departure and that there are no unnecessary delays.
- Terminate accounts: Disable or completely delete the accounts of the departed employee, depending on your organization’s policies. This applies to both internal and external accounts.
- Change passwords and access codes: Ensure that all passwords and access codes associated with the employee are changed. This applies to both individual accounts and shared login details, such as login details for shared folders or projects.
- Revoke physical access: Don’t forget to revoke the employee’s physical access as well. Collect any access passes, keys, or other physical security devices provided to the employee.
- Inform relevant teams: Communicate with the IT department, HR department, and other relevant teams about revoking the departed employee’s access rights. Make sure everyone is aware and takes the necessary steps to ensure security.
- Check and monitor: Conduct regular checks to ensure that all access rights have been effectively revoked. Also, monitor for suspicious activities that may be related to the former employee.
Taking back Company property
Upon termination of employment, it is not only important to revoke digital access but also to take back company assets and devices provided to the employee. This includes laptops, smartphones, tablets, access cards, and other physical security devices. Below are detailed steps for effectively managing company assets and devices during the offboarding process:
- Inventory company assets: Make an inventory list of all company assets and devices provided to the employee. This includes laptops, mobile phones, USB sticks, company vehicles, and other relevant equipment.
- Check the condition of the devices: Perform a thorough check of the condition and functionality of the retrieved devices. Check for any damage, missing accessories, or installed software/applications that need to be removed.
- Create a checklist: Create a checklist of all necessary steps to be taken when repossessing assets. This includes disconnecting personal accounts, deleting company data, and restoring the devices to factory settings.
- Remove company data: Ensure that all corporate data is deleted from the repossessed devices. This includes deleting files, emails, business applications, and other sensitive information. In doing so, use reliable and secure methods to ensure the data cannot be recovered.
- Disconnect personal accounts: Check whether the employee has linked personal accounts, such as cloud storage services or business applications, to the repossessed devices. Ensure these accounts are fully disconnected. The employee can no longer have access to company data after termination of employment. This includes any social media accounts.
- Erase and reset devices: If possible, perform a full reset on the repossessed devices. This ensures that all data, settings, and applications of the previous user are erased and the devices are ready for reuse within the organization.
- Document the process: Provide detailed documentation of the repossession of assets, including date, time, and signature. This serves as proof that the devices were taken back correctly and that all necessary steps were followed.
- Manage reuse or disposal: Determine whether the repossessed devices can be reused within the organization or whether they should be recycled or destroyed according to your company’s policy. Ensure that all personal data has been completely erased before the devices are reallocated or disposed of.
Informing Internal and External Stakeholders
Good communication is key when terminating employment. You want to inform all relevant stakeholders about the changes and any security measures. It is also important to create awareness within the organization about the importance of safely terminating employees.
Assess and improve the termination process
After every termination of employment, it makes sense to evaluate the process and make any improvements. By continuously learning and growing, you can continually tighten security procedures and minimize risks.
Safely offboarding employees is a crucial part of a robust cybersecurity strategy. By following the right procedures and taking proactive measures, you will protect your business from unauthorized access and potential security risks. Make sure you always take care when revoking access rights and managing company assets. This guide will give you all the tools and knowledge you need to ensure the security of your company upon termination of employment.