Theft of confidential information and trade secrets can be just as damaging to your business as embezzlement or other employee fraud.  Help protect your competitive advantage with these tips:

Buy paper shredders … and use them: Putting unshredded copies of sensitive or confidential documents in the garbage opens up a range of security issues.
Have a plan for terminated employees:
Don’t let a disgruntled ex-employee become a security threat. Have a plan in place to keep a person from leaving your company with confidential documents. Some steps to follow include:
Where there is a high risk, have the person leave the company immediately upon termination.
Make arrangements for the immediate return of keys and any confidential company information.
Remove the person’s password from your computer network immediately.
Use computer passwords:
Require your employees to use passwords to access your computers or your network. This will serve to keep unauthorised people away from important files.
Have all employees sign non-disclosure agreements:
Make sure employees understand that theft of intellectual property is as serious to your business as theft of physical property. Use a non-disclosure agreement or a non-disclosure clause in an employment contract, to spell out employees’ responsibilities regarding confidential or trade secret information. Be sure you define what your company considers to be confidential. This is critical, since it clearly differentiates which information belongs to your company and which belongs to the ex-employee. The agreement also should outline steps the employee must take to maintain confidentiality, such as using computer passwords, not removing sales lists from premises, not copying documents to disk etc.
Keep tabs on your documents:
Set and enforce strict procedures for access to confidential or trade secret information. Allow only those who need certain information to see it.
Label key electronic documents (such as your customer database) as “read only” or password lock the documents so they cannot be altered or written to disk.
Don’t tempt prying eyes:
Don’t make it easy for people who aren’t supposed to see confidential documents to snoop. Never leave documents lying around. File things away when you’re done with them or when you’re away from your desk. Lock your filing cabinet and your desk drawer when you’re away. Close computer files when they are not being used and never leave a file on your screen when you go away from your desk.

(Henry Grobler 044 873 6112) •

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