Cybersecurity

How To Protect Employee Information: Best Practices For Securing Sensitive Data

Published on: May 10, 2023

Last Updated on: May 9, 2024

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It’s standard practice for companies to collect data on their employees during all stages of the employment relationship. Much of that data is sensitive.

Malicious actors could cause irreparable damage to your company’s reputation and employee trust if they get a hold of such records. Safeguarding them is, therefore, an essential responsibility.

This article explores the essential steps HR departments and people in charge of sensitive employee information should take to safeguard it.

Assessing Existing Data

It’s only possible to protect information effectively if you know its scope. Before everything else, it’s imperative to conduct an audit. Doing so will expose what information your company collects, where it’s stored, and in what form.

This is especially relevant for companies that are either in the process of digitizing their records or have a long history. The audit may uncover discrepancies in your records or information you no longer need to collect.

Creating A Data Collection Policy

With existing data accounted for, it’s time to create guidelines and best practices for further collection and access. Develop a policy that clearly states the type of employee information that needs collecting and outlines how the company will use this information.

The policy should establish who has the authority to gather and safeguard the data.  It should also cover the consequences of unauthorized access.

Securing The Data, Both Physically And Digitally

Employee information is delicate. Restricting and monitoring access to it is a must. If your company still has physical records, ensure they’re in a dedicated, locked room. Only select HR personnel can enter.

Securing digital records involves protecting the data and the computers you store it on. Ensure their operating systems and any deployed antivirus or antimalware software are current. That still may not be enough, so encrypting the information is also advisable.

Password-protect the data and require individuals with clearance to update their passwords regularly. It’s best to let a company password manager tool handle this to avoid using repeated passwords or ones that are easy to guess. These tools automate the generation and deployment of new and strong passwords. They’re an excellent company-wide cybersecurity measure.

Restricting And Stratifying Access

Part of a successful information protection policy is to create a clear access hierarchy. The information your company collects on its employees falls into different categories.

People with varying roles in the company should only have insight into parts of the information that are relevant to their fields. For example, middle management has no business looking into someone’s confidential medical records.

Following Data Privacy Laws & Regulations

Data privacy has become a pressing societal issue. Laws governing its protection have appeared as a result. California’s Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation are the most well-known examples.

Even if your company operates outside these nations or states, it still needs to comply with their regulations if it’s processing data on its residents.

Correctly Dispose Of Unneeded Records

Companies collect information on their employees during the hiring process and their tenure. They need to dispose of that data once employment ends.

 

This includes the physical destruction and proper digital deletion of all relevant files. Employers have the right to retain employee information for some time after termination. How long depends on the specific information, which is another thing to keep track of.

Provide Training For HR, Management, And Employees

The laws regarding employee data protection and how to do so are evolving. It’s important to educate employees about their privacy rights. Management will benefit from training in handling information on persons leaving the company.

The HR department needs to keep abreast of the latest legal and technological developments concerning information protection. HR employees’ training should cover various aspects. These include the company’s data protection guidelines, security best practices, what to do if a breach happens, and how to dispose of unnecessary data.

Conclusion

Information privacy, their acquisition practices, and the laws governing them are constantly developing. The modern HR professional needs to be mindful of these changes and ready to face emerging challenges. We hope this guide will serve you as the first step in the right direction.

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Abdul Aziz Mondal

Abdul Aziz Mondol is a professional blogger who is having a colossal interest in writing blogs and other jones of calligraphies. In terms of his professional commitments, he loves to share content related to business, finance, technology, and the gaming niche.

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