While all businesses hope to maintain loyal and honest employees, your relationship can change dramatically when an employee is solicited or hired by a competitor. With much of your business information stored, communicated or accessible remotely by electronic devices, every business should address protecting its information from unauthorized use or disclosure.
Policies and procedures should be implemented and acknowledged by your employees that your business information belongs to your business and that their access to it is solely for the purpose of conducting your business. Even if their job includes accumulating, analyzing and storing business or industry information, it belongs to your business. It is difficult to protect information if you fail to tell your employees its importance and ownership.
Your business should also take reasonable steps to protect its information. Agreements with employees, policies and procedures acknowledged by your employees, using only business owned storage and communication devices, password protection, limited access to information, locked files and confidential stamped documents can go a long way to prevent the theft or misuse of business information and to obtain legal relief in the event of misappropriation. This is particularly important when employees work remotely or from home.
Your business should also have clear rules on what electronic devices can be used to conduct business and, if the devices belong to the business, what personal business, if any, can be conducted on them. Owning all electronic devices used, including smart phones and their phone numbers, is best. At termination these devices can be retrieved, and tampering with, downloading or deleting business information can usually be determined. All passwords and user names must be disclosed to the business. By restricting personal use of business equipment, you can reduce liability for employees’ inappropriate uses.
Brooks, Tarulis & Tibble, LLC counsels and advises businesses on protecting confidential and proprietary information, and updating their protections. Should you have any questions in this regard, please contact me.