Integrating Technology Methods into your Culture of Ethics

January 2014

With evolving technology, the task of detecting, managing, and preventing unethical activities is becoming more and more challenging; however, by creating a culture of ethical leadership, you can help instill ethical values within your organization. In reality, unethical activities occur frequently, even though some are done with good intentions.

Previously, it was more challenging to steal data from an organization because it meant carrying a physical object, media, or paper from a workplace. With today’s easy data storage and transfers through the internet, it has become much easier for individuals to take your organization’s electronically-stored property. Although it is impossible to completely prevent unethical activities from occurring in your organization, it is possible to mitigate the risk through appropriate employee training, by creating a culture of ethics, and by utilizing various software tools to prevent file transfers to locations unintended by the organization.

Most importantly, your organization should work to create a strong culture of ethics by developing a code of ethics and reinforcing it frequently. A well written code of ethics will outline the ethical behavior expected of employees and detail the actions taken if this code is not adhered to. Additionally, an organization can create an ethics program that includes employee trainings, frequent reminders of the ethics policy, a comprehensive employee evaluation process, and value-based recruiting. Through formal training and monitoring of appropriate ethical behaviors, your organization will help reduce the risk of unethical activity and data theft.

Separately, your organization should consider the use of technology products to detect and prevent unethical employee behavior and fraud. Some examples of technology products and their application that can help mitigate the risk of unethical behavior or fraud include:

  • Installing security cameras, monitoring the activity, and appropriately archiving historical recordings;
  • Installing website filtering tools to prevent employees from visiting sites where files could be uploaded or transferred to individuals unintended by the organization;
  • Requiring employees to send all external communications regarding company subjects or containing company content through their corporate email or appropriate company sponsored encrypted message solutions;
  • Preventing the use of external media, such as USB drives, external hard drives, or CD/DVDs;
  • Controlling the use of personal devices for corporate use, such as the use of encryption, remote wipe, and disabling the use of the screen capture function.

As with all internal corporate programs, a risk assessment should be done by the organization prior to developing and implementing an ethics policy and the associated information technology tools. This should be done in order to verify that you are appropriately mitigating the risks that are most prominent and critical to your organization.

Creating an effective ethics program can be time consuming. But remember, an effective program can save your organization in the long run. The topics outlined above should serve as a means to initiate the conversation in your organization. Do you have a strong ethics program? Do you have a well-established culture of ethics? Do you have technological methods in place to prevent and detect data theft and unethical behavior?

If you have questions about how these issues might impact you, please call Patrick Morin at 1-800-244-7444.

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