Securing Employee & Candidate Data in Digital First World

Securing Employee & Candidate Data in Digital First World

Of all the resources available to companies, one of the most valuable is candidate and employee data. In a digital economy, all of it is stored online. Given that the data they handle is sensitive, personal information, its security should be a priority.

Yet, 55% of HR professionals don’t consider data safety as a pressing problem. They should. Employee data is a gold mine for identity thieves. Research estimates 30 to 50% of identity thefts begin at an office, and the majority happen through phishing.

Security breaches like these come at a high cost for companies. From stealing attractive potential candidates to accessing trade secrets, leaked data can cause great harm.

The consequences of which can mar reputation, bring legal liability, and plunge employee confidence. Therefore, it has become a necessity for HR professionals to safeguard and protect employee information.

Steps to Safeguarding Employee & Candidate Data in 2021

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective strategies to ward off any attack on your precious employee and candidate data:

1. Collect what is needed

Leveraging technology to break silos, restricting access, and more, human resources can embrace many strategies to secure data. But the very first step should be to collect merely what is required. Considering the information is private and, often, privileged, it is better to ask employees only necessary details.

2. Track what is collected

When companies don’t know what data they have and where it is stored, securing it becomes an issue. So, keep an eye on the information gathered from employees.

Another step HRs can take at this junction is an accurate classification of data. At each stage – collection, processing, storing, or managing – record files containing personal data. It’ll be easier to protect it and, if needed, dispose off correctly.

When companies don’t know what data they have and where it is stored, securing it becomes an issue. So, keep an eye on the information gathered from employees. Click To Tweet

3. Build a security policy

The most basic method that companies can use to secure employee and candidate data is forming an intricate security policy. It defines what is considered personal information and the steps to be taken to preserve it. Move beyond simply defining a policy, take measures that enforce it consistently.

4. Limit access to data


A leak is more likely to occur when more people have access to private information. So, strictly restrict who can see, share, or use the employee data beyond the HR department.

Within human resources, specify personnel who can access the information and then screen them before giving permission. For instance, interns or part-time workers are not a sensible choice.

Besides curbing access, one more step necessary here is a periodic audit. Monitor the access level to sensitive data randomly. Ensure privacy controls are in place, and no one who doesn’t have permission to retrieve information can do so.

5. Destroy extra data

HR departments quickly build up a repository of candidate information, given that attrition is part and parcel of every organisation. Browse through the employee database periodically. Destroy, not delete, data that is not useful or pertinent anymore.

Destroy, not delete, data that is not useful or pertinent anymore.

6. Leverage technologies

Employee data, being digital, is stored in apps and databases housed in servers. Employ technology to safeguard it, such as firewalls that prevent unauthorised access, or intrusion detections apps that send alerts before a breach occurs.

Rely on encryption to shield particularly sensitive information from outsiders. Use a key, pin code or password to unlock such data. Moreover, curtail who can assign or share passwords.

These were approaches to watch over stored data. Employee and candidate information is often in-transit over the web. Companies must afford protection to it too.

To guarantee that no one taps into information that is moving across a network or portal, use Secure Sockets Layer connections. SSLs fortify company networks and prevent breaches.

One more simple action is treating employee information as if it’s yours. You would never share a financial document or ID proof without understanding why it is needed and verifying the person’s identity. Similarly, be aware of where the employee data is being sent and why.

7. Keep it updated

Firewalls, intrusion systems, or security patches are of no use if they are not up to date. Identity thieves and hackers continuously try to break through protocols.

The only way to stay ahead of them and look after employee information is through updated tech.  Therefore, schedule routine maintenance of all the technologies utilised for data security.

8. Train the employees

More than 40% of firms make the egregious mistake of not training HR personnel on data security. Even locking up employee and candidate data in Fort Knox will not work, if employees are not prepared to follow the measures put in place.

It is why human folly results in more hacks than weak systems. Take steps to train every employee who accesses sensitive information. They should be aware of confidentiality requirements and the process of securing their workstations even when stepping away just for a minute.

9. Focus on stopping phishing

Since email phishing schemes are on the rise, with over 65% of Indian companies reporting an increase, pay critical attention to them.

Phishing schemes trick employees into disclosing their contact information, password, and more. Hackers can then use the data to gain access to a company’s system or network.

Make every person in the company aware of such schemes. Train employees to detect suspicious emails, phones, or pop-ups, especially when they are from someone beyond the firm.

Teaching people to spot simple signs like a deliberate misspelling of the email ID or a missing signature in the email body helps avoid attacks and thefts. Further, workers must flag these emails or web pages so that they can be shut down before a leak ensues.

10. Create a Plan B

According to the security firm Barracuda Networks survey, 66% of Indian companies reported at least one data breach since work from home started.

Although no one wants such a scenario to transpire, it is often inevitable. So, a definite thumb rule is to create a response plan. It should include steps that help discover unauthorised access or backdoors to your data swiftly. It must also have actions that help reduce the fall out of the breach.

Understand bolstering defences is not challenging

Inoculating a company against cyber threats like leaked documents seems daunting at first. But securing employee and candidate data doesn’t cost much, nor does it require much effort. Small changes in employee behaviour, putting security nets in place, and being vigilant can make all the difference in the world.

Small changes in employee behaviour, putting security nets in place, and being vigilant can make all the difference in the world. Click To Tweet

If you have any interesting thoughts or experiences regarding data safety and cybersecurity, you could leave us a comment or get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you!


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