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Protecting Your Company When A High-level Executive Leaves

by | Nov 6, 2019 | Best Practices, Cyber Security

The offboarding process takes time and there are several factors to consider when a high-level executive leaves. Whether you have been planning it for a while or you’re having to make a quick decision on the spot, severing ties with an employee is never simple. Beyond the standard Human Resources tasks, you must think about all of the technology that your company uses.

When you consider the large role that technology and digital communications play in modern businesses, letting an employee go can be a logistical nightmare from an IT standpoint. While many companies have strict policies for low-level employees with limited access to confidential information, what happens when the person you’re letting go has access to everything?

Firing a high-level executive can be a monumental task if you’re not prepared. Even if you cut ties on good terms, there’s always a security risk involved. Executives typically have access to trade secrets, client databases, intellectual property, and more. So how do you keep all of this data safe?

How to Protect Corporate Data

Depending on your company structure, your high-level employees might have access to thousands of sensitive files, high-risk databases, and important software. The first thing you need to do is have your IT team revoke access immediately. Working with both IT and HR, think about all of the information this person has and revoke access to those important files from every possible angle.

It’s crucial that you and your HR team assess the risks this employee may pose. Your IT team can then get to work changing passwords, deleting accounts, and more. Here are just a few key things you need to revoke access to immediately:

  • Email accounts
  • VPN or remote access software
  • Network credentials
  • Voicemail or call forwarding systems
  • Collaboration accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Banks, accounting software, and financial accounts
  • Data backup systems

Information Security


When Does Access Need to Be Revoked?

This is where things get a bit tricky. From an IT perspective, the most important thing to do during the offboarding process is to complete credential changes as soon as possible. Ideally, your Human Resources department should contact your IT technician before they even deliver the bad news.

Working with IT beforehand allows you to assess the risks and determine the appropriate course of action based on what the high-level executive has access to. As this person is going through the exit interview, your IT team can get to work and ensure all of the basics are covered the moment the ex-employee steps out of the office.

How Do You Make Sure No IP is Leaving the Company with the Departing Employee?

The versatility that technology offers is a double-edged sword. It’s great that data can be accessed remotely from multiple devices. However, it poses a serious risk during the firing process. There’s a good chance that your employees use personal phones and computers to access email, access cloud accounts, and more. So, your IT technicians must take the steps to wipe company information.

This must be done carefully. You can’t just wipe the device clean, as it’s not owned by the company. Luckily, there are some IT solutions to these problems. Advanced programs can remove corporate data while leaving personal files intact.

If the former employee did use a corporate device, make sure that it’s returned. Everything should be wiped clean and restored to factory settings. This includes computers, hard drives, flash drives, and anything else that has the potential to hold data.

High-Level Executive Stealing Data

How Do You Ensure the Transition is Smooth for Clients and Team Members?

Letting a high-level executive go is going to impact various aspects of your business. As a business owner, it’s important that you be proactive and take the steps to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible for every party involved.

To keep your team members safe, your IT technician or system administrator needs to remove the former employee from all internal messaging systems, group email lists, and collaborative web services.

For your clients, it’s a good idea to communicate the change in your company. Get in touch with your financial institutions and any third-party entities that the employee worked with regularly. This can help to prevent any accidental communication with the former employee that could lead to a security breach.

Auditing and Monitoring

You can’t just go through the offboarding process and expect things to go off without a hitch. Always prepare for the worst! After you have cut ties with your former executive, you need to perform a detailed security audit and monitor those former accounts. An audit will help you and your IT technician identify any security risks that were overlooked. The same goes for continual monitoring in the weeks following the person’s departure.


Letting go of a high-level executive is no easy task. But, having a comprehensive IT plan in place can help keep things as smooth and stress-free as possible. We recommend having a discussion with your company’s IT person/team and Human Resources to come up with a plan for these situations. The key to a successful transition is to be prepared and implement strict access management policies from day one.

Do you have an offboarding process for your high-level executives? If not, we can show you how much risk your company is taking on.


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