Lessons for HR: Data Protection Tips for the Workplace

Data protection has never been more important. As we’ve seen with the latest ransomware attack, when hackers access business data it can have a devastating impact. Beyond the big news stories, smaller hacks are occurring each and every day. If your company data falls into the wrong hands it could bring disruption or even failure to your business.

For HR and recruitment companies, one of the big things to consider is all of the personal employee data you have stored on your computers. Names, addresses, phone numbers, tax details and bank details could all prove very useful to a hacker with malicious intent. You have a legal obligation to keep employee personal details safe. You also need to protect your confidential company information from data theft.

Putting data protection measures in place now could save you lots of work in fixing problems after a cyber-attack. With free and low cost preventative measures you can soon protect your company data.

Train Employees
An innocent employee mistake could allow hackers into your computer systems. Your employees don’t need to know all of the technical details of data security but they should know what to look out for and be wary of. They should always know that a contact is legitimate before sharing any confidential information, they shouldn’t open email attachments from unknown sources and they should develop a healthy suspicion of unfamiliar links appearing on emails or in websites.  

Limit Access to Data and Computers
Not all employees need to access all company information. Every employee should have a login and should only be able to open the files that are relevant to their daily work. Be extra careful with laptop computers as they are an easy target during a robbery after which data can be extracted.

Update Systems and Software
Malware, as we saw with the latest attack, is designed to find weaknesses in the software you use. Software providers are constantly updating their products to fix vulnerabilities and prevent this from happening. Updating your software when instructed is a simple but very effective way to protect your systems from attack.

Sign up to a VPN
A VPN encrypts any data sent over the internet. A traditional internet connection to an ISP is prone to hacking attempts, particularly if you’re connected to public Wi-Fi or trying to access company data remotely. There are a variety of VPN services available so it’s important to consider the features and requirements of your business before deciding which one is likely to work best.

Get Malware Protection
Malware is a kind of virus that becomes installed on your computer when you click on an infected link or insert a corrupted USB device. The virus may cause damage to your operating systems. It may also try to access and steal your data. To prevent a malicious software attack, you should install antivirus and anti-spyware services on your company computers.

Be Password Savvy
Hackers are good at cracking passwords. This means you need to ensure that all company passwords are complex – with a variety of different numbers, letters and symbols – and changed regularly. All devices should be password protected and all employees should be aware of your password policy.

Don’t Forget About Paper Files
In a digital age, we’re consumed with protecting our online information. However, it’s important to remember all of the sensitive data still kept in paper form. You need to keep filing cabinets locked, shred any documents containing confidential details and be wary of what heads to the trash can.

Protecting your company data is an essential part of business management. Keeping your employees and your company secrets safe should be an ongoing consideration if you’re to prevent data theft and ensuing damage to your operations.

Author: Amelia Dermott

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