In one recent cybercrime scheme, a mortgage company employee accessed his employer’s records without authorization, then used stolen customer lists to start his own mortgage business. The perpetrator hacked the protected records by sending an email containing malware to a coworker.
This particular dishonest worker was caught. But your company may not be so lucky. One of your employees’ cybercrime schemes could end in financial losses or competitive disadvantages due to corporate espionage.
Why would trusted employees steal from the hand that feeds them? They could be working for a competitor or seeking revenge for perceived wrongs. Sometimes coercion by a third party or the need to pay gambling or addiction-related debts comes into play.
Although there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to foil every hacking scheme, your business can minimize the risk of insider theft by implementing several best practices:
Restrict IT use
Your IT personnel should take proactive measures to restrict or monitor employee use of email accounts, websites, peer-to-peer networking, Instant Messaging protocols and File Transfer Protocol.
When employees leave the company, immediately remove them from all access lists and ask them to return their means of access to secure accounts. Provide them with copies of any signed confidentiality agreements as a reminder of their legal responsibilities for maintaining data confidentiality.
Don’t neglect physical assets
Some data thefts occur the old-fashioned way — with employees absconding with materials after hours or while no one is looking. Typically, a crooked employee will print or photocopy documents and remove them from the workplace hidden in a briefcase or bag. Some dishonest employees remove files from cabinets, desks or other storage locations. Controls such as locks, surveillance cameras and restrictions to access can help prevent and deter theft.
Treat workers well
Create a positive work environment and treat employees fairly and with respect. This can encourage loyalty and trust, thereby minimizing potential motives for employee theft.
In addition to the previously named threats, your office’s wireless communication networks — including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular — can increase fraud risk. Fraud perpetrators can, for example, use mobile devices to gain access to sensitive information. One way to deter such activities is to restrict Wi-Fi to employees with special passwords or biometric access.
For more tips on preventing employee-originated cybercrime, or if you suspect a fraud scheme is underway, contact us for help.
Next Step Blog
Our blog is intended as a tool to keep people informed about relevant tax and accounting issues. If you have a question or an idea for a post, let us know!