There is a lot of talk about the importance of securing customer information. While that’s a legitimate concern for businesses, ensuring employee information doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
This article will cover why businesses must ensure the privacy and security of employee data. It will also give some tips for HR professionals on effectively doing so.
The Importance of Securing Employee Data
Companies are very worried about securing customer data. And how couldn’t they be? Exposing sensitive customer information can lead to terrible financial and reputational consequences.
What many business leaders fail to realize is that the danger is even greater for employee data. Most businesses store way more data on their employees than their customers. That’s because there is a lot of regulation protecting customer information and how it’s stored.
But that’s not to say that regulation on storing employee data is nonexistent. Employers have an obligation toward employees to keep their data safe. Sensitive information like social security numbers and financial details are highly sought after by hackers. If businesses fail to protect them, employees have all the right to take legal action to compensate for any losses.
And that’s just one of the reasons businesses must prioritize their employees’ data security and privacy.
The Relation Between Exposed Employee Data and Cyber Attacks
Things like login credentials are for sale all over the dark web. If an employee’s login credentials are on some of those lists, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaches their account. And that’s not only dangerous for them but for the entire company.
Hackers can use that initial breach to spread across the environment and compromise even more data. This includes data on products, customers, and anything else they can get their hands on. It doesn’t take a cyber expert to recognize how dangerous this is for a business.
5 Ways to Secure Employee Data
Now that we have explained the dangers of neglecting employee data security, we will explore the most effective five ways to ensure employee data protection.
1. Invest in a password manager.
Remembering complex passwords for different accounts can be a nightmare for employees. It’s best to provide them with a solution to generate a strong password and store it securely where employees can easily access it.
That’s exactly what a password manager does. This tool will encourage employees to maintain strong password hygiene, significantly reducing the risk of exposed credentials.
2. Train employees on data protection.
Sometimes, it’s not even your fault that sensitive data gets exposed. But you will still be held responsible for it. Make sure employees understand how important securing sensitive information is for them and the business as a whole.
Social engineering, phishing, in particular, is a common attack vector. So make sure that your employees understand how to recognize and defend against it.
3. Use encrypted cloud storage.
Where you store sensitive data has a lot to do with how safe that data is. Encrypted cloud storage solutions are an excellent way to store your employee data securely.
They allow you to set your data up in whatever way you want. This includes limiting access, setting passwords, and implementing strong privacy policies.
4. Follow best recordkeeping practices and laws.
As much as we rely on digital solutions these days, paper records are still very common. Make sure those records are locked and stored safely as well. Electronic records should be encrypted and password-protected.
Abide by local and federal recordkeeping laws. Records should only be maintained for as long as necessary and then destroyed. Another critical aspect of recordkeeping is the disposal of records of former employees.
5. Develop formal policies and procedures.
Formal policies and procedures will make it easier for employees and supervisors to follow secure data-keeping practices. Make it clear that ignoring these policies, such as viewing or sharing sensitive information, will not be tolerated.
These policies should also be made available to third parties. HR departments use various tools to make their job easier. Vendors must know how to handle the data being shared with them.
Securing employee data is just as important as securing the data of your employees. While regulations for employees are more lenient, the risk of a company-wide data breach is far greater.
Sensitive employee information like banking and social security numbers can easily be found on the dark web if not adequately protected. This will bring your business into much trouble with the law and your employees and customers.
HR Future Staff Writer