Employee data—it contains some of your company’s most sensitive information. Salaries, social security numbers, health records…this stuff is like gold to cybercriminals.
While you need access to employee data to run your business, keeping it secure is seriously tricky with today’s sophisticated hacking threats. A data breach could wreck your operations and demolish trust with staff.
So how do you lock down employee data and protect your organization? Well, why not turn to the people who are responsible for holding and protecting hundreds of thousands of employee records across a wide range of industries? As a leading HR platform for over 3,000 companies, HiBob helps organizations manage sensitive employee information each and every day.
It’s safe to say these folks know employee data security inside and out as they tirelessly work to minimize and eliminate every HiBob vulnerability they can find. In this guide, we’ll share HiBob’s recommendations on the biggest threats to watch out for and best practices to boost security. So, whether you’re in HR, IT, or the executive suite, use these tips from employee data pros to secure your systems. Let’s dive in!
The Rising Threat of Phishing
“Phishing and social engineering represent one of the biggest cybersecurity threats to employee data. Hackers are getting extremely sophisticated with personalized phishing emails and social media scams aimed at specific employees. If they can trick one person into giving up their login credentials, it can give access to tons of sensitive company information.” – Tamir Ronen, HiBob’s CISO.
Today’s phishing attacks are highly personalized based on reconnaissance of employees on social media. This makes the phishing attempts seem authentic, tricking employees into giving up login credentials or sensitive data.
Once hackers gain an employee’s login information through phishing, they can access company systems and steal troves of confidential employee records, financial data, intellectual property, and more. To protect against phishing threats, try:
- Ongoing security awareness training to educate employees on phishing identification
- Multi-factor authentication across all systems to secure accounts
- Email security tools to detect and block phishing attempts
- Monitoring for spikes in phishing activity during high-threat periods
- Keeping antivirus and spam filters up-to-date to catch the latest phishing tactics
With a layered defence strategy, you can develop strong protections against rising phishing risks.
The Password Problem
“Many data breaches happen not because of fancy hacking techniques, but simply employees using weak, reused passwords. Organizations need to implement strong password policies and multi-factor authentication across all systems containing sensitive data.” – Tamir Ronen, HiBob’s CISO.
HiBoB points out that weak and reused passwords are behind many data breaches. Employees often use simple passwords across multiple sites, and hackers take advantage of this through credential-stuffing attacks.
Using usernames and emails from breached databases, hackers can gain system access using compromised passwords. This allows them to steal employee data, implant malware, or hold data hostage for ransom. To improve password hygiene, try:
- Enforcing strong password policies with complexity requirements
- Requiring regular password changes to thwart stale credentials
- Providing a password manager to generate and store strong passwords
- Enabling multi-factor authentication across sensitive systems
- Conducting brute force attack monitoring to identify compromised accounts
With proactive password best practices, companies can shut the door on data breaches through poor password hygiene.
The Remote Work Risks
“With the rise of remote and hybrid work environments, more employee data is being accessed and stored outside of corporate firewalls. Without proper encryption, this data can be easily compromised if a device is lost or stolen. Encrypting employee data should be a top priority for data security.” – Tamir Ronen, HiBob’s CISO.
More employee data is now accessed remotely and stored on devices outside of corporate networks than ever before. This introduces risks of data exposure if devices are lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.
Unencrypted data on remote devices can provide access to employee records, emails, system credentials, and other sensitive information. A single compromised device can lead to a disastrous data breach. To reduce remote work risks, try:
- Enabling hard drive and file encryption on all endpoints to protect data
- Using a virtual private network (VPN) for secure remote access
- Restricting data and system access to only what is needed
- Providing remote security training on safe device usage
- Implementing robust device wipe capabilities in case devices are lost
With strong encryption, access control, and remote security measures, companies can embrace flexible work while preventing the leakage of sensitive employee data.
The Overprivileged Account Danger
“Not everyone in an organization needs access to employee data like HR records, payroll info, etc. However, overprivileged credentials are a common issue,” warns Tamir Ronen, HiBob’s CISO. “Companies need to implement least privilege access and role-based permissions to limit exposure.” – Tamir Ronen, HiBob’s CISO.
HiBoB points out that overprivileged credentials give employees unnecessary access to sensitive systems and data. This creates significant risks of insider threats, whether through intentional misuse or accidental leakage.
Overly permissive access enables employees to view, share, or modify confidential employee information like salaries, health records, and performance data beyond what their role requires. To limit data exposure, try:
- Conducting access reviews to identify and revoke unnecessary permissions
- Implementing role-based access controls and least privilege policies
- Limiting access to strictly need-to-know data per job duties
- Enabling detailed access audit logging for regular review
- Cutting off system/data access immediately for employees who leave the company
With strong access governance, companies can significantly reduce risks associated with overentitled employee credentials.
Protecting employees’ data is getting tougher every day. Between insidious phishing scams, weak passwords being too easily guessed, and sensitive info flying around unencrypted—it’s a real challenge securing all that critical information.
While no single product is foolproof against today’s cyber threats, combining aware users, tough tech safeguards, and sound policies can make your company resilient. Layering on different defences strengthens your protections, and guiding employees on security best practices pays off down the road by keeping data—and your company’s reputation—safe.
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