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The Impact of the Great Resignation on Cyber Security


The so-called “Great Resignation of 2021” has added increased strain on companies, especially when it comes to protecting themselves against security risks.

What is the Great Resignation?

In what has been coined the “Great Resignation of 2021”, an estimated 33 million Americans quit their jobs after spring 2021 and employees were quitting their jobs at a record pace during the second half of 2021. 

One of the causes cited for this was the stress of the pandemic which inspired many to look for a new job in a new sector and seek better pay and working conditions. This was especially true for industries that were hit hardest by the pandemic, for example the hospitality and leisure sectors.

How has the Great Resignation impacted cybersecurity?

As employees have left their former jobs, it seems that many of them have decided to take with them certain data, with 45% of IT leaders reporting an increase in data exfiltration. It seems that employees from marketing teams were the most likely to take data with them upon leaving their job (63%), as well as those working in HR (37%) and IT (37%). 

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In fact, in a Tessian survey looking at 2,000 UK and UK employees, 71% said that the Great Resignation has greatly increased the security risks for their organisation.

Can companies protect themselves against cyber threats brought about by the Great Resignation?

The effects of the Great Resignation are thought to carry on into 2022, with 55% of workers thinking about leaving their current positions in the coming year. This implies that there will be increased pressure on IT and security teams to protect their internal data and a push by employers to increase training for this.

As companies now know how common it is for employees to take certain data with them when they quit their jobs, the responsibility falls on companies to plan and protect against this. Organisations need to clearly express what is expected of employees regarding data ownership so that data leaks cannot be attributed to poor communication from the employer.

With increasingly more staff turnover, companies are becoming more vulnerable to attacks against their data. Employees feel entitled to take data with them when they leave their roles, often believing that the data will assist them in their new job or sometimes simply because they worked on the document. 

This has cultivated a culture where it is acceptable for employees to steal data and, in some cases, take it with them to their new company. Thus, companies need to define clear expectations and be proactive about preventing data breaches for employees who are leaving.

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