The keepers of the Parrot Gardens at the Vancouver Zoo thought they had it all under control in 2009. Clip the wings of all the birds and none can escape. Well, Chuva the Macaw found her way out and got pretty far down the road without flying—she found a nice spot to lounge, nestled in the engine of an RV parked in the lot. She was found 50 miles away. A nice venture without wings! No one expected that.

Most employers do not expect it when one of their employees—whether colorful like a parrot or wise like an owl—escapes the fold. But when they do, unlike Chuva, you cannot usually bring them back. You have to deal with the consequences. And one of these consequences is dealing with important company information that the employee may have on their personal phone, tablet or laptop. The easiest way to deal with this is to have a policy in place. Such a policy must be enforced to protect your sensitive data. And that policy must state that the business/organization has the right to delete information and applications on the personal device of an employee who has left.

That policy should also include the following: the ability to change the employee email account and password so that company-related email will no longer flow to an employee-owned device along with a process in place for an organization to prove its ownership of any devices (that facilitates password resets when the employee leaves, but does not share their login credentials). Such a policy should also be clear about ownership of phone numbers. If the company provided a device to an employee, ensuring company ownership of such a phone number is vital for a host of reasons.

Larger organizations of today are putting in place Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions. EMM is the set of people, processes and technology focused on managing mobile devices, wireless networks and other mobile computing services in a business environment. Putting in place such a program controls licensing; it allows only vetted, tested and approved applications to coexist with company-related data; and it ensures company ownership of devices, data and applications.

So while most organizations do not want to cage in their employees, like the Vancouver Zoo, it is imperative for all to enclose and protect their data, their hardware, and their applications so that when an employee flies the coop, everything can be recouped.

First published in our May 2017 IT Radix Resource newsletter