How HR departments can be proactive about data security

HR departments have always been associated with the success and development of people, but now they are more proactively involved in cybersecurity and data protection.

With the rise in cyber attacks and data breaches, this is no longer a responsibility that HR can afford to ignore.

HR professionals are already knowledgeable about all the sensitive information organizations hold on their employees, such as salary history, performance reviews, benefits plans – the list goes on and on. However, this level of transparency makes HR professionals a potential target for criminal hackers.

This blog will discuss how HR departments can be proactive about data security and take steps to stay ahead of the curve.

Understanding the dangers of BYOD policies

As more and more organizations rely on remote workforces, BYOD (bring your own device) is becoming common. This is convenient for employees who use their smartphones, tablets, or laptops to perform tasks at work instead of using company-issued devices.

However, the rise in BYOD also means an increased risk of business data loss if a device falls into the wrong hands.

Many organizations are unaware of how easy it is for criminal hackers (or even rogue employees) to access sensitive information on personal devices – often because they don’t know what security measures should be taken with excessive amounts of unsecured mobile apps installed on these types of computers/devices.

HR professionals need to educate themselves on the security risks associated with BYOD and how they can be mitigated before enforcing employee adoption.

This can be done by making cell phone security education part of the employee onboarding process to ensure company-wide compliance. Teach each employee about two-factor authentication, VPNs, and more when onboarding or uptraining.

The importance of HR training and education

Another area where HR departments can be proactive about data security is through continual training and education. For example, HR professionals can pursue qualifications that help them become an HR specialist.

HR professionals who hold such qualifications are better equipped to handle the complexities of cybersecurity and data protection. By understanding how security breaches can harm business operations, HR staff will be able to step in when necessary and deal with issues before they become more significant problems.

These individuals should continue their education by attending seminars or webinars on emerging trends to know what is happening in the industry. This way, you always have your finger on the pulse of cybersecurity best practices.

This entails knowing what new threats exist that need to be addressed. Additionally, by regularly refreshing employees’ knowledge about best practices for safeguarding sensitive information – including phishing scams, password security protocols, and more – HR professionals can help prevent harmful incidents from occurring in the workplace.

Auditing data collection and storage best practices

HR departments can also play a proactive role by auditing the process of data collection and storage.

For example, an organization that has outdated security protocols for protecting sensitive information such as employee salaries or benefits plans is an easy target for criminal hackers. In that case, it’s time to update these procedures to remain compliant with new regulations from the federal government about how organizations need to store this PII (personally identifiable information).

HR professionals should be especially mindful when hiring third-party vendors that will have access to PII on the organization’s employees and other sensitive business intelligence. This includes vetting potential service providers thoroughly before bringing them into your network, ensuring they have a solid history of protecting information, and complying with federal regulations.

This is important because there are numerous examples where employees of third-party vendors have violated privacy policies, putting the organization at risk of fines or worse if someone hacks their system and steals sensitive data.

HR professionals should also work closely with their IT department to ensure that data security measures are taken across the board. For example, this might mean ensuring that software upgrades are completed on time so that cyber criminals cannot exploit existing vulnerabilities or weaknesses in a system.

It’s also essential for organizations to have proper disaster recovery plans in place – which includes updating employee contact information frequently if someone moves out of state or is terminated – as well as taking preventive steps like requiring employees to change login credentials after they’ve been absent from work for an extended period (so no one else can access company systems).


Employees are the best defense against data breaches. HR professionals should be proactive about educating staff on protecting sensitive information and complying with legislation like the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act).

This means working closely with IT, auditing security measures within an organization, and vetting third-party vendors before they’re brought into your network.

It also includes regular refreshers for employees who may not know what is happening in today’s cybersecurity landscape. This ensures that organizations will always have their finger on the pulse of current trends and emerging threats.

This is a guest article written by Jori Hamilton. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of IT Governance USA.