Of all the things to worry about, employees taking data when they leave is probably not high on your list.

It should be.

Not only do you need to protect your network from external threats, but internal ones as well. Your intellectual information – including customer data, designs and trade secrets – is your most valuable asset and must be protected.

How safe is your company’s data? According to a survey released by Dell earlier this year – probably not very. The survey found that fully 35 percent of employees report that it’s common to take proprietary company information on leaving their firm.

Even more worrisome – another study found that more than 13% of respondents can still access a previous employers’ systems using their old credentials.

What you can do

How can you prevent employees from taking or deleting important data or accessing systems once they leave your company.

1.  Consider the arrangement of your office space. One safeguard is to simply make sure that everyone’s monitor is visible when people walk by.

2.  Block access to file sharing sites like drop box, box.net and other free services. This is a common way for employees to take copies of documents out of the office.

3.  Monitor the amount of data copied to external drives and look for unusual activity. This will also establish an audit trail in the event intellectual property or other confidential documents are stolen.

4.  Though not without drawbacks, you can also disable workstation USB ports to prevent use of flash drives.

5.  End BYOD (bring your own device) to work. If an employee brings a personal tablet, phone or laptop to work you have fewer options available to retrieve data should you need to do so.

6.  Create, communicate and enforce an employee acceptable use policy.

Don’t forget about external sites to which employees have access: website analytics, blogs, stock photo sites, company social media accounts, etc. These will also have to be de-commissioned once an employee leaves.

Finally, as we always say, make sure to routinely back up all of your data. If any of your data ends up deleted or stolen by an employee, a good backup file will prove invaluable.