By H. E. James, MBA
Talent managers collect a lot of sensitive data. From census data to personal contact information, talent and human resources managers manage a great swath of big data. With the proliferation of mobile devices in nearly every industry, data becomes more vulnerable to cyber attacks, even if the statistic show most people aren’t worried.
Even if the average American isn’t worried about data security, HR professionals should be, and doubly so. Employee data encompasses some of the most private information a person can share. It is a prime target for cyber attacks, no matter the scale. Protecting your customer data through improved network security is one thing, but you should prioritize protecting your own employees’ security as well.
A Matter of Engagement
There are many ways of improving and securing employee engagement. Opportunities to advance or the chance to participate in organizational decisions are two ways to improve talent morale. However, they are the tip of the iceberg.
Employees want to trust the organizations for which they work, and they are likely savvier about the security of their data than many talent managers believe. They know when their data will be well taken care of by HR and when it’s not. If an HR department leaves boxes of paperwork lying around or displays sensitive data, that says a lot to that savvy employee. She might leave the HR office wondering what other information is vulnerable and how.
Don’t just wait for your organization’s information technology (IT) department to secure your talent data. Working with IT, take control of your data security using a few simple tricks and forming a few new habits. Because, in the end, it’s everyone’s responsibility to secure data.
A Matter of Practice
Large-scale data breaches are usually perpetrated by groups of hackers, as noted by Maryville University’s Cyber Security program. These data breaches typically target giant corporations, such as Target or even government agencies. Your talent data is vulnerable to more familiar breaches: internal carelessness or malice.
In order to mitigate any carelessness, educate your employees as to both the sensitivity of your data and the consequences of any mishandling. While fear tactics aren’t the best means of motivation, education is, and employees who know the whole picture are more likely to handle data with care.
The security and encryption options you have, depend on the software you use to collate data. Many organizations still use software like Excel to keep or transfer data. This can lead to any number of issues unless you know how to make Excel worksheets hidden or very hidden. Hiding Excel sheets is an excellent way of sharing only the most necessary talent data.
Storing your data via a third-party cloud service is another way to keep it more secure. In the past, cloud storage services were much more vulnerable to cyber attacks than on-site storage services. Today, this is less likely to be the case because third-party services are staffed by experts who do nothing but network security. Most organizations can only afford a handful of IT personnel who share multiple duties. This can lead to too many hands in the cookie jar and a lack of communication.
If your organization chooses to store data in the cloud, be sure to require two-factor authentication for access to data, as advised by David Midgley. Apple is now requiring this of iPhone users who store information in iCloud. It may feel like an extraneous step in an already convoluted process, but when your talent’s data is on the line, erring on the side of caution is key.
Work with your IT department to develop a training program for your HR staff that details the why and how of securing talent data. This will keep talent data from being vulnerable to attack. It will also keep your HR department from being vulnerable to poor morale and even lawsuits.