As an employer, you need to collect information from your applicants and employees. The information could be Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth and medical records, and other crucial information provided during employment. But once you gather the sensitive data, you have the responsibility to protect it.
But that may be harder than most employers think. Today, there are many cybersecurity threats, especially with the changing work styles, and your applicant and employee information may be breached and stolen.
A data breach is a huge nightmare for organizations and can significantly damage your business’s reputation and financial standing. Therefore, every organization needs to be proactive about their applicant and employee data security by having stringent data security measures.
But how exactly do you do this? Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Develop Formal Policies and Procedures
While any data you have in your organization is important, not all require the same level of security. You need to segregate your employee data and classify it as public, or private, and restricted.
After putting the data into categories, create a policy clearly stating that unauthorized transmission, copying, use, or viewing of sensitive employee data is subject to disciplinary action or even termination. Additionally, you can instruct employees to raise the alarm once they suspect that someone has gained unauthorized access to protected information.
2. Educate Employees
A great way to keep your applicant and employee details secure is through educating your entire workforce.
Phishing email schemes are a major threat to data security in organizations. In fact, the IRS had to alert the HR and payroll professionals to keep vigilance on phishing emails that maliciously claim to be from top company executives and request personal employee details. Phishing emails appear genuine; thus, it’s important to educate your employees to spot them.
As an added safety measure, require your payroll and HR employees to verbally verify emails from company executives, especially if they request employee details.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices are gaining momentum, and some organizations are allowing employees to work with their laptops and mobile devices. Unfortunately, their devices may not enjoy the same security as your corporate systems and can be easily compromised.
Therefore, cybersecurity education to employees is important to equip them with knowledge on general file security practices, social engineering hacks, and password security. This gets them in a good position to keep the company data safe.
3. Maintain Records Securely
Electronic records need encryption, password protection, and storage on a secure server. You will need to regularly evaluate electronic systems to prevent security compromise by viruses and new technology. For paper records, ensure the storage location is lockable and designate access to staff with legitimate business needs as the bookkeeper, payroll processor, or managing partner.
4. Investigate Incidents and Take Action Promptly
If someone accesses employee records without proper authorization, whether unintentionally or intentionally, ensure you investigate the incident promptly. The investigation will help determine whether improvements are necessary to protect employee records before it is too late and whether you should consider appropriate action.
Furthermore, you need to review any applicable federal or state data privacy laws to ensure compliance. Many states, including Colorado, Tennessee, Delaware, California, and Minnesota, mandates that employers inform employees if a breach in their personal information occurs.
5. Strengthen Computer Security
The first step towards a strong computer system is to restrict access to your systems. Installing a firewall helps block unauthorized access, while establishing a proxy server helps control and restrict internet access.
Regularly install patches and updates since outdated operating systems and software make your company more vulnerable to cyber threats.
Finally, create a checkout policy to block computer access and terminate passwords when an employee leaves your company.
Hire a Payroll Provider You Can Trust
Protecting sensitive employee information requires an organization to commit its time and efforts. Luckily, working with a payroll provider can help relieve the stress and enhance your employee data security.
At ASAP Payroll, we use an agile cloud computing service that delivers fast results. Whether you are a small or large business, we’ll help you choose the programming model or development platform that makes the most sense for your business. Reach out to us for a quote.