When it comes to data protection and privacy, it’s safe to assume the bad guys are out there lurking. In recent years, it’s no secret that thieves have stolen personal data from millions in security breaches at major retailers. Think your small business is TOO small to be a target? In a recent survey, 82% of small businesses said they weren’t at risk because they didn’t have anything worth stealing. This line of thinking just isn’t true, and it could give thieves exactly the opportunity they seek.

Protecting and maintaining the confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information such as addresses, social security numbers and other private employee information are essential. To avoid liability and to comply with privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it’s important to establish processes and procedures to prevent theft and fraudulent use of employee information. Make sure to check applicable federal, state and local laws. Don’t cut corners with HR data privacy best practices! Here are some of the top data privacy risks to your employees’ private data and how you can resolve them:

Forgetting to Log Off

Ever sign onto someone’s computer, log into your email or another account where you store sensitive information, and then forget to log out? Because browsers often save passwords automatically, there’s a good chance someone could log into your account and access confidential employee files.

TIP #1: Protect employee privacy by always logging off before you close the browser.

Leaving Employee Data Visible on Your Monitor

You never know who may be watching when you access a personnel file. A long look by the wrong person could violate employee data privacy and prove costly for both you and your employee.

TIP #2: Always close employee files and log out before you walk away, even if it’s only for a couple minutes. A screen privacy filter — which blocks others’ view from most angles — is a great solution for prying eyes.

Choosing an Overly Simple Password and Sharing It

Who hasn’t picked a password that’s simple or obvious because it’s easy to remember? Or scribbled passwords on Post-it notes and placed them near their keyboard? When you’re dealing with HR software security, you can’t be too careful about unauthorized access.

TIP #3: To ensure the security of employee data, create complex passwords and keep them private, and change passwords periodically for extra protection.

50% of small and midsize businesses have been breached in the past 12 months, and 65% of those businesses don’t enforce their password policy.

Talking Too Much

Ever take private employee information such as a social security number over the phone and read it back to make sure it’s correct?

TIP #4: Don’t. Repeating personal information aloud makes it easy for a nearby thief to capture it. Instead, ask the employee on the other end of the phone to repeat it for you. If necessary, jot down the information for quick reference and then destroy the note when you’re done.

Overlooking a Backup Plan

Everyone needs a safety net, and your small business is no exception. If your computer dies, you don’t want your HR data to die with it.

TIP #5: Choose a cloud-based software that offers multiple backups at multiple locations. That way, if one storage fails, your employee data is safe somewhere else.

Using Unsecured Wi-Fi

Nearly everyone uses laptops and cellphones to access business and personal accounts in public places. The problem is that not all Wi-Fi networks are secure. And if they aren’t secure, thieves using special equipment can capture private employee data transferred over the air and access passwords and cookies.

TIP #6: Be wary of where you work, and never access private employee files or confidential information in public, unless you’re certain the network is secure.

Is Cloud-Based Software Right for Your Business?

To help you navigate the HR software decision-making process, we’ve developed the HR Software Quiz. In just minutes, you can determine if it’s right for you and your small business!

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