A Guide To Legal Data Protection for HR Teams and C-Suites [Business Operations]

Human resources manager implements legal data security policies while sitting at a laptop.

Among their many other responsibilities, the Human Resources department of any company is largely responsible for the protection of sensitive personal data. Human Resources data security has become a necessary part of any job description. Employee reviews, salary information, medical information, and internal complaints are just the beginning of the types of information that can be used against a company in a malware attack that could ultimately lead to the demise of a business. 

Knowledgeable human resources managers are a valuable line of defense against hackers and thieves looking to target your employees’ personal information. Your sensitive data is digital, so the answer isn’t locking paper files into a filing cabinet and throwing away the key. 

There are so many considerations for human resources data security including who has access to data, what networks store which kinds of data, under what circumstances is data shared, and so much more. 

What Are The Costs Associated With Data Loss?

Improper legal data protection can lead to costs far beyond upgraded technology and devices. In fact, these costs can be so severe that they are often incalculable. These are just some of the costs associated with a poor HR data security policy:

Reputation

There’s one thing we know for certain: No data breach goes unnoticed. Proper legal data security is critical in reputation management. The moment sensitive data gets into the wrong hands all eyes – including those of your many stakeholders – will be on your company. This could cost you valuable positive word of mouth and future customers.

Loss of Employees

Poor Human Resources data security can directly lead to a loss in great talent for your company. A major data breach can make employees question your ability to keep the company’s information, and therefore their personal information, safe. If their data becomes available to the wrong people, especially if they are not properly notified, there is a very good chance of not only employee loss but legal action.

Legal Fees

Allowing sensitive data to get out of your control is a one-way ticket to costly litigation. Not only can individually affected employees take legal action, but state and federal government figureheads can as well. Proactive legal data protection is imperative, but it’s just as important to know the steps to take after a breach.

Malware Attack Fees

Ransomware attacks cost businesses anywhere between thousands and millions of dollars. Uninformed employees or a complete lack of legal data protection policy can lead to phishers taking hold of valuable assets and not letting go until a major ransom is paid. Serious malware attacks have been known to destroy businesses, so it’s best to be proactive, get a good policy in place, and assure that your employees can identify many of the major signs. 

Protecting Your Data Means Being Proactive

Though these costs can seem intimidating, there are immediate, proactive steps you can take to improve your legal data security and HR data security policy that will help protect your employees and your bottom line. Ignoring the need for a data protection strategy until after an employee has left with your data is not an option. Here are our best practices for legal data protection to put into place before a breach actually happens:

Continuous Legal Data Security Training

Having a team that instantly recognizes the signs of a security breach is an invaluable first line of defense against harmful attacks. Just as you would for work policies, it’s a good idea to bake cybersecurity training into your fiscal year. 

When training these employees, we recommend a three-pronged approach: Recognizing a data security attack, the effects of personal data loss, and sensitive data handling. 

Recognizing a legal data security attack: Whether it’s ransomware, doxware, or phishing scams, there are some obvious ways to identify an attack attempt. For example, if your employee gets an impersonal sounding email from the CEO asking for the social security numbers of all employees riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and no contact information, it’s likely this is a phishing attempt. While this may seem obvious to some, your employees may believe they’re simply following orders and doing their job. Arming your team with the knowledge of the signs to look for can be the difference between your company thriving and shutting down from a deficit as a result of a malware attack.

The effects of personal data loss: Improper legal data protection doesn’t only affect your company, it affects each individual employee. While important, only emphasizing the cost to the company may not resonate with your employees. They may not understand that within the Human Resources department alone, their most sensitive personal data is available for the taking. However, by providing this training, getting your whole team on the same page, and showing that you’re being proactive, your employees can build trust in your company and start to take on their own legal data security responsibilities.

Sensitive data handling: Though your employees may not realize it, it’s not just the C-suite that handles sensitive data everyday. All employees, from top to bottom, are responsible for implementing effective legal data protection policies. With a heavier reliance on remote work, the risk of sharing data with the wrong person increases greatly. Even when working on personal networks or devices, your company’s information should remain under your control without affecting everyday business functions. By establishing a clear expectation for sharing and protecting sensitive data, you’re ensuring that all members of your team are informed and less likely to make a detrimental mistake. 

Establish a standardized cybersecurity plan

Now that your employees know what a cybersecurity threat looks like, what steps should they take to prevent one from happening? Plan out these actions and put them into a company-wide cybersecurity plan. Some fundamentals to consider are:

  • Will employee data, like personal contact information, be encrypted?
  • Who has regular access to sensitive data?
  • Who will ensure that legal data protection training occurs regularly?
  • Will there be a security response team? If so, who is part of it?
  • How is a breach communicated to the rest of the company?

Another key consideration that many companies fail to take into account is how to implement post-resignation legal data protection. Small and medium businesses can have high employee turnover, and without tightened cybersecurity those employees can easily walk away with confidential information and files. What happens when an employee quits? Do they lose access to all email accounts? Do third-party passwords change? These procedures have to be included in your cybersecurity plan.

Work with DatAnchor

The best HR data security policy starts and ends with a zero-trust architecture. The addition of remote work has only increased the need for sharing and collaborating all types of information. Protecting your devices and networks is no longer enough – you need to protect the data itself. Anchor shifts the paradigm from complex network security to simple file security, making your human resources data security stronger and better than ever.

Find out how your company can use crypto-technology that allows security to travel with the data versus within the confines of our network.

With Datanchor, users can collaborate and share sensitive files anywhere, without an organization sacrificing control of their data security. Contact us to see how.