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HR Data Security: What You Need to Know to Protect Sensitive Records

How often do you see a news story today where a company announces a data breach? Whether it's a retailer you frequently shop or a consumer credit bureau, companies are facing a challenging task protecting sensitive records.

Because technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, there is an even greater challenge to keep intruders away from personal information records. This extends to sensitive employee records and candidate information housed by your HR department or an outside vendor.

Are You Focusing on These Data Security Issues?

Companies typically focus on employee data privacy, such as protecting Social Security numbers, salary amounts, health benefits, and other personnel information. However, your company also needs to focus on protecting data collected from job candidates.

Information from pre-employment assessments, applicant tracking systems, and background checks typically includes a candidate's name, email address, and SSN. Securing this information is just as critical as protecting existing employee data.

Without proper safekeeping of both employee and candidate records, your company is susceptible to intruders, and you could be in violation of employee data privacy laws.

This is not meant to scare you, simply to ensure that you are aware of current HR security risks and issues that will arise in the future. Being aware of these issues will help you stay proactive when managing employee and candidate data.

Data Security Risks: We Are Very Connected

No longer are security risks limited to accessing records through a computer network. Because of the prevalence of Internet-connected devices that make up the Internet of things (IoT), there are even more access points for intruders.

These Internet-connected devices — such as your digital home assistant — collect and share millions of data points throughout the day. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noted in a 2015 report, "Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World," that it takes fewer than 10,000 households to generate 150 million discrete data points every day.

The report also noted that in 2015 there were an estimated 25 billion connected devices. In 2020, that number will double to 50 billion. Without the proper security protocols in place, this could leave sensitive data vulnerable to interception.

For example, if one of your hiring managers is working from home reviewing a candidate's job application, that information is at risk of being picked up by a hacker looking for entry points through the multiple devices in that home.

That is not the only technological risk you should be aware of. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to track people's activity and habits to know when to try to access data. This is possible because we unintentionally create a public profile through the millions of data points generated by our Internet-connected devices.

This poses a threat to companies whose employees conduct business from home. According to the FEC Report: "As consumers install more smart devices in their homes, they may increase the number of vulnerabilities an intruder could use to compromise personal information."

Fortunately, there are preventive steps that your company can take to secure your employee and candidate data, reducing the risk of a data breach.

How Can You Become More Secure Managing HR Data?

You should be collaborating with the IT department to ensure that your systems are regularly updated and personnel information is stored securely. The procedures to enhance data privacy should include the following steps:

  • Periodically review your internal security protocols.

  • Create access restrictions for employees working remotely.

  • Ensure that access to employee and candidate records is restricted to secure networks.

  • Train your team on how to follow proper policies and procedures accessing data.

If your company uses outside vendors to store HR data or if you are considering outsourcing this function, your team should vet these vendors to ensure their systems are up-to-date and secure.

With technology becoming more sophisticated each year, it is important that everyone stays ahead of the curve to reduce the risk of a breach. You especially do not want to be in a position trying to regain access to your data or trying to recover data after a system-wide attack.

Get Support For Your HR Data

You have undoubtedly read of numerous other companies that experienced a data breach. It will continue to be a prevalent issue until security catches up with the rate of technological advancements and intruder sophistication.

ZERORISK HR is committed to employee data privacy with our products. The ZERORISK Hiring System includes a pre-employment assessment, secure reporting to your HR department, and secure access to the client portal for your team to access an individual's information.


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