Keeping your business safe requires much more than simply locking the doors at night and putting cameras in the parking lot. Today, criminals make more money attacking you through computers than they do breaking into cars and offices. With the right malware, they can steal customer information, company secrets, or logins to access your system again and again. Businesses spend thousands on cybersecurity solutions to protect the customers and company secrets, but there is one department with a treasure-trove of hacker bait that is often overlooked: HR.
How to Be Sure Employee Identities are SafeEmployee information has always been treated with a certain amount of privacy. After all, HR keeps track of home addresses, emergency contacts, and social security numbers. However, it's not just about privacy or preventing nosy coworkers from contacting their colleagues at home. Hackers have dozens of ways to use even basic employee personal information for nefarious and harmful purposes.
With just a name and a bank account number, they could wreak havoc on employee finances. With SSNs, home addresses, personal phone numbers, and email addresses they can take over an employee's entire life or impersonate them while committing crimes in another state. Sometimes, they steal a database of data and sell it to other hackers on the internet black market.
This is why, as an employer, it's your duty to protect your sensitive HR personnel data. Most employers who realise the risk take this responsibility very seriously. They wouldn't dream of being the cause of an employee's financial or legal troubles at the hands of a criminal. However, due to the covert ways many types of malware operate, it can be difficult to know whether your data has been breached. In some situations, a hacker first hoards identity details to use or sell them later, in which case the consequences are only felt much later on.
For some employers, the thought keeps them up at night wondering if their valued staff are being put at risk. Whether you lie awake in the dark or just want to make sure you've fulfilled the full extent of your responsibility towards your employees, we're here to help. Let's take a look at three of the most effective solutions to help you stop worrying about whether your employee identities are safe.
1. Audit Access to Sensitive InformationThe best place to start is with access to information you control. Not only should you upgrade and maintain your network cybersecurity measures, but you should also specifically control the authorized access to these sensitive files. The chances are that only a few people in your company need to have access to confidential employee details to do their jobs. Those who do generally just need access to specific details like birthdays, dates of hire, or emergency contacts, seldom to the whole file.
However, there's a good chance that too many people have authorised access to the complete files without raising any red flags. Some companies even leave fired or resigned employees logins still active and able to access data. These logins can continue to be sold, stolen, or lost, long after the ex-employee stopped thinking it was important to protect.
Hackers love logins because they take the hassle out of actually hacking your system. With a stolen or spoofed login that has HR file access, they can waltz right in and take employee identities at will.
The solution is to consistently and strictly audit access to employee information. Make sure only people who actively need to can access HR files with their username and password. Also, for people who just need limited information, limit what details they can access or read when logged in. This will significantly decrease the number of potential entry points for a hacker spoofing a login. It can also help you keep track of precisely who has access and is using their access to these specific files in case of a stolen login or an inside job.
2. Closely Monitor Activity and File ChangesThe next step is to keep a close eye on the sensitive employee files you keep. Store all your active files on one server and all your compressed backups on another and guard both servers as if your employees lives depending on it. We don't just mean keeping an eye on the access logs. If a hacker is determined enough to get access to your employee data, there are ways to enter your network and crack into these servers with and without a stolen login. Keep an eye on your login records to protect against stolen login use. Any access at odd hours or from an unusual IP/location should be red-flagged and investigated.
You should also be using network monitoring, a method of tracking the minute details of computer activity. With network monitoring, you can keep track of any access to your employee data servers even through unauthorized and unconventional means. You may be able to spot the resource use of a lurking malware program or unusual network activity at an odd time, which could indicate malware trying to send data to its remote hacker.
Monitoring the data itself can give you another perspective. If a sensitive file is 'touched' by being opened, copied, or looked at in any way, this too can trigger an investigation. This gives you layers of protection at every conceivable access point.
3. Employee Identity MonitoringFinally, there is the ultimate safety net: employee identity monitoring. For conscientious companies that are concerned with protecting employee identities, there is a service that allows you to monitor for signs that identity has already been stolen and is currently being misused.
These services evolved from the consumer-level identity protection services which let someone monitor their own identity. In these arrangements, the user will get an alert if their name, SSN, card numbers, or other data has popped up in places that don't match their typical lifestyle. An Uber in another state, a job application in a distant city; these can be red flag indications of a stolen identity.
When applied to a single person, identity monitoring takes in personal information like a full legal name, SSN, bank account numbers, criminal and credit history, and so on. From there, two methods are typically used. First, the mostly-automated service watches for uses of these personal details in places they should be in areas that don't match the patterns of the person's life. Second, the service monitors updates on recently reported data breaches. If the tracked person's name or details are included in a breach, the service will issue an alert to let that person know that there's a chance a hacker may have their information and what information was released, if applicable.
As a company, you can buy this service in bulk for your employees. This way, even if there was a data breach before you implemented your new security methods, you will be notified the moment identity theft has been protected. This allows you to help your employees retrieve their identities and recover any damage as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Is employee identity security keeping you up at night? Do you worry that the files you must keep could be used to hurt your valued team members? Worry no longer. With these methods and the help of an experienced data security team, you can keep your employees safe from identity in the past, present, and future. For more insights into business data security at every level, download our ebook today!