1 in 4 Former Employees Still Has Access to Files at Old Job

employees access to files at old job

As many as 1 in 4 employees still has access to data at a former job. Almost 42% of employees admit to sharing workplace passwords.

These stark statistics involving workplace data security were unveiled by password solution provider’s Beyond Identity’s research into employees’ habits around passwords in the workplace.

The research involved Beyond Identity surveying 1,008 employees about their password and security practices at work.

1 in 4 Former Employees Still Have Access to Employer Files

The survey found that 1 in 4 workers have knowingly experienced a data breach of their work account. Despite being aware of a data breach, 14% of employees failed to inform their employer.

A breach of sensitive data can cripple a small business. The tendency for employees to be somewhat flippant when it comes to password sharing, puts businesses at greater risk from data being stolen or comprised.

Couple this with ex-employees still having access to files at their former job, and businesses are putting themselves at risk of a potentially serious and costly data breach.

Importance of Maintaining Strict Password Protocol

Beyond Identity’s research highlights how important it is for businesses to maintain safe and secure password practices. As the authors of the report write: “In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is more important than ever.

“When it comes to cybersecurity protocols in the workplace, they [employers] need to be clear and concrete to be effective.”

The research reveals a worryingly nonchalant attitude among employees about passwords. 34% of participants admit to jotting down passwords in a notebook.

Password Management Software

38% of employees reported using a password manager, software which stores and manages online passwords. By auto-generating passwords, this type of password management software is considered beneficial to businesses, as it not only saves employees time during login processes, but it helps protect their identities and subsequently data.

Though as the report points out, password managers are not ‘unhackable’, and, if they are infiltrated, cybercriminals have access to an employee’s entire collection of passwords.

Revengeful Ex-Employees Can Put a Business at Risk

Former employees maintaining access to old files can also be problematic for businesses. A resentful ex-worker, for example, could manipulate the privilege and cause immense damage and disruption to their former employer.

The sharing of passwords among employees can also be potentially damaging. The study found that 66% of employees share their work passwords with co-workers.

Business passwords are also shared outside of the work environment. 37% of participants admit to sharing passwords with family members. 21% say they have shared such information with friends, and 36% with a significant other.

Email Most Common Method of Sharing Passwords

Methods of sharing passwords range from 46% of employees using email, to 19% sharing passwords via a Google document. Text is another popular method of sharing passwords, with 45% of the survey’s participants admitting to sharing passwords via text.

A staggering 73% of employees say they have knowingly experienced a data breach of their work account. 14% of the employees who have experienced a data breach of their work accounts did not tell their employer about it.

Tightening up on Password Protocol

The message of Beyond Identity’s report is that to help prevent their business falling victim to a data breach, employers need to tighten up their password and cybersecurity practices.

Protocol such as encouraging employees to change their work passwords regularly, to avoiding sharing passwords with colleagues or people outside the organization, and to terminating former employees’ access to accounts, will ensure a business is less prone to a potentially costly and damaging security breach.

Image: Depositphotos

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".