The importance of data security cannot be stressed upon more in today’s world of mobile business, digitization and brilliant interconnectivity. Data is the lifeblood of a business and without implementing proper systems and processes, securing the valuable data that exists in a company is impossible.
Instances of data breach have become commonplace and it’s nerve-wracking, to say the least.
There is a huge transformation in the way companies work now. Every team interconnects or interacts with the other team through technology.
Encouraging employees to bring your own device (BYOD) to work also widens the window for errors. Forget the malicious hackers or ransomware attacks, security breaches can also occur due to human errors.
A Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report has found that 63% of confirmed data breaches happen because of the weak, default or stolen passwords. That is a scary statistic, considering the huge amount of software applications used by a company every day by different employees.
Some of the other employee-driven mistakes include sending sensitive information to the wrong person, not disposing of company information correctly, misconfiguration of IT systems, and lost and stolen laptops and mobile devices.
Why Every HR Manager Needs To Give Utmost Priority To Data Security!
Let’s first understand what makes data security so crucial in today’s day and age!
Why Data Security Is So Important And Why Is The HR Responsible For It?
Companies that experience data leaks have to bear the brunt and compromise on their market position and future success. Especially businesses that maintain data of their customers, suffer the most when their data is breached as consumers take data protection very seriously!
Two in three customers said they would cease doing business with a company that experienced a breach where financial information was stolen. A quarter of the people said they would consider taking legal action against the company.
The whole purpose of including data protection under the law is to make legal actions, fines or even criminal proceedings possible.
Understanding compliance requirements across legal jurisdictions is extremely vital too, as regulations differ from one territory to another.
HR plays a significant part when it comes to data security. From the moment an employee joins the firm, data security has to become an ongoing part of any employee experience.
HR has to implement data protection policies and procedures, educate the workforce and provide awareness training. Updating each new hire about the new security developments and educating them about basic threats like phishing scams and password protocol will also reinforce your security.
It is also important to identify the risks associated with respect to different security systems which can be done by working closely with the IT department.
Why Do Data Security Breaches Occur?
Despite advances in information security research and cyber detection tools, errors seem to have remained the same for over a decade now and part of the problem is employee’s dismissive attitude towards data security.
A survey found that 70% of the millennials directly violated the IT policies by bringing blacklisted applications to work. And 60% of millennials aren’t concerned about corporate security, because they do not have adequate knowledge about the threats that outside applications pose.
This is where security education is so important. To stay alert about the threats to data security, it is crucial to identify these threats first. Some of the current security aspects you need to focus as an HR are:
1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD):
Organisations that have implemented the BYOD policy are undergoing serious security issues, as there is an increased desire for individuality and personal device use.
There is a threat attached to data that is downloaded on the move, especially employee sensitive data such as payroll and benefits. The device may vary from user to user but the security policy and protocols should not.
Complying with the local rules and norms is another concern that companies face, even if your data is safe from hacking and other cyber attacks.
Especially multinational corporations that have to consider different or conflicting laws when it comes to various laws of the land.
3. Mobile Applications:
There is a sea of mobile applications available to make life easy and help you work at your efficient best. But this unparalleled efficiency and speed may come at the cost of HR data security.
Where exactly your data is getting stored, once you access all these apps? With the BYOD approach, companies may want to consider a list of banned apps at work and a strict monitoring of the allowed apps.
4. Litigation Exposure:
Since HR data comes under the legal jurisdiction, another risk associated with data loss is that once information or data is breached, you may be subject to legal action from the employee whose data it was.
One of the main functions of HR is to safeguard employee privacy and that includes HR data security.
5. Lack Of Awareness:
The biggest risk to data breach till today is lack of awareness on the part of human errors.
When users are unaware of the true danger looming over their data, because of negligence on their part, no protocol or security system can prevent data loss.
Strategies And Ways To Ensure Data Protection:
Some of the strategies and ways HR managers can adopt to ensure data protections are:
1. Accurately Classify Data:
Classify data into Tier 1 and Tier 2 so that it helps you monitor all the information easily. Include sensitive information such as personal details of employees like salary in Tier 1, which should only be accessible by specific HR personnel.
Tier 2 data can include less sensitive data such as internal policies and manuals. This information should be encrypted and assigned security permissions that allow everyone inside the organization easy access.
Check with external service providers about the measures taken by them to secure their data from unauthorized access or hackers, in case you share any information with them.
2. Educate Your Employees:
To err is human, but it is important to provide adequate training to the employees to ensure data is kept secure.
Have a clearly defined security policy in place and educate your employees about this policy.
An HR survey found that more than 70% of SMEs use HR software, the top challenge faced by businesses today is educating employees on how to use new technology effectively.
3. Encourage Accountability:
As the usage of SAAS based applications has increased, research suggests that people have become more relaxed about security.
This could be due to misconceptions about cloud app security. If you are using a SAAS based HR platform, make it your priority to ensure that your provider has all their bases covered from regular systematic evaluation to comprehensive information security controls.
HR is about managing people, onboarding them, training them, cultivating a positive culture and above all ensuring employees have all the tools at their disposal to keep their data secure. Data security is no doubt a priority for every HR leader today!