Why It's Important to Protect Employees' Personal Information
Workplaces have experienced significant changes in the past few years. An increase in hybrid work models, more freelancing opportunities, and growing interest in location independence has made it important for businesses to change the way they conduct visitor management and collect, organize, and store information.
Unfortunately, data breaches are rising globally, and personal data is increasingly vulnerable to unauthorized access at the same time as new laws are holding companies more accountable for protecting their employees' and visitors' personal information. In the US alone, there were over 212 million data breaches reported in 2021, the highest number in the world and a 22% increase from the previous year.
Why Do Data Breaches Occur?
There are many and evolving ways for attackers to access networks and harvest personal data, but here are two of the most common vulnerabilities.
The most common way businesses protect themselves from unauthorized data access is through requiring unique usernames and passwords. However, these credentials are not foolproof—they can be hacked or stolen. Employees who reuse these credentials across platforms with wildly different security standards can also undermine the security protocols of their professional networks. Once cybercriminals gain access to a user’s credentials on one website, they can access much of the user’s professional network with the same password.
Poorly Integrated Technology
The rise of remote and hybrid work has led to a corresponding increase in Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOB) programs. Under these programs, employees are allowed (and even encouraged) to use their personal devices to get work done. Employees who work remotely often can even use multiple devices such as a mobile phone and a laptop to access private information. This increases the attack surface for malicious actors, especially when users connect to insecure public networks without using a VPN.
4 Consequences of Leaked Employee Personal Information
1. Risks to the Affected Employees
The most obvious threat of personal data being leaked is to the person whose information has been made public. Organizations collect extremely sensitive information such as income, address, medical records, and so much more. When this information is made public, employees who are affected can be subject to embarrassment, inconvenience, and even identity theft. Employees can also be targeted on the basis of previously private information such as income and sexual orientation.
2. Loss of Internal Trust
When employees share highly personal data with their employers, they expect that the holders of their information will handle it responsibly. This faith in confidentiality and security is eroded when a data breach occurs. Employees who lose faith in their employers can opt to look for alternate employment with an organization they deem to be more trustworthy. This loss of trust can also make it more difficult for companies to find new employees willing to share their personal details.
3. A Loss in Revenue
In the age of data privacy and security, customers and users are extremely cautious about the businesses they share their information with. Businesses that suffer a data breach can expect customers to be more skeptical of the benefits they can provide. This is even more true for businesses that rely on customer data to get work done, such as medical or financial services. The loss in revenue can be felt by businesses immediately and can take a long time to recoup.
4. Potential Fines and Legal Action
As Americans become more concerned with the amount of data businesses collect and store, regulators have stepped in to make sure organizations use this information in a safe and responsible manner. Research from KPMG revealed that more than half of American businesses suffered losses as a direct result of a regulatory fine or compliance violation. These fines and penalties take a heavy toll on businesses even after they’ve been impacted by the cyber attack itself.
How to Prevent Data Breaches
Make Regularly Updating Passwords Mandatory
Employees use passwords to enter secure systems all the time. However, security gaps are created when employees use identical passwords across multiple platforms and services. This means that passwords stolen from a website can make another site very vulnerable. Organizations can protect themselves from harm by making their employees change their passwords on a regular basis. This way, any compromised credentials are only usable for a short period of time. By the time the attack takes place, the stolen password no longer works on the system. SwipedOn’s custom sign-in flows can help identify the users that are more vulnerable to compromised credentials and put them through a different system that does not rely on outdated or insecure passwords.
Organizations can go to great lengths to design and implement complex and comprehensive security measures but employees must know how to navigate these systems effectively. Human error can cause significant gaps in a company’s security architecture. This can be mitigated by providing education at all levels. It’s also in the best interest of the organization to make these processes as accessible as possible for non-technical employees to ensure maximum participation. SwipedOn’s intuitive graphical user interface makes it easy for everyone to get the information they need conveniently while still providing additional security features for organizations that need them.
Digitize Your User Information Safely
It can be challenging for businesses to maintain high levels of security during periods of transition. When companies are proactive in digitizing their employee records, they must be careful of the gaps that they are exposing themselves to during the move. Records that are being digitized must be kept within a secure environment while being transferred. SwipedOn’s digital visitor management system allows employees and visitors to use their own devices to sign in while keeping all their information within a single fully secure and compliant database.
Employees are increasingly concerned about the way businesses collect, store, and share personal information. Data breaches are becoming more common and organizations must be more proactive in protecting their employees and their most sensitive data. Companies that hold private information are placed in a position of power and it is in their best interest to show that they can handle that information responsibly.