Securing Human Resources from Cyber Attack

As technology continues to make lives more comfortable, the number of data theft and hacking threats are surging. Cyber security breaches are destructive and costly for every organization. Cybercrime costs $100 billion every year to the global economy. Nearly 60% of fired employees are caught stealing corporate data. Also, 20% of breaches are due to the carelessness of employees. Organizations need to be vigilant of cyber threats and potential trouble due to the malicious intent of employees. 


HR departments and their operations have become critical players in keeping the economy afloat and people on their feet in the time of COVID-19, which has led to the re-imagination of underlying processes at the workplace. People are the core of any organization, and the HR department is balancing the needs of employees in this’ new normal’ and maintenance of the organization’s efficiency. The shift is complex and can be complicated further if data security and cybercrimes are neglected. Cybercriminals are looking for data stored by HR, and getting it is easier than ever in the work-from-home situation. 


Table of Contents


  • Need for Security
  • Steps to be taken 
  • Role of Human Resource
  • Conclusion


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Need for Security 


Data stored by HR, if compromised, can be devastating for both the personal life of employees and the company. It is one of the highest risks for an organization as it includes the contract details, medical information, employee demographics, and social security numbers. The storage, use of high-value data, and transmission are governed by many state and federal laws and regulations. The risks have been increased due to the sudden shift in workforce distribution. The situation means more and higher access levels across VPN, cloud, and personal networks. 


Steps to be taken


1. Security– No security setup is full proof, but steps can be taken to reduce risk. A cyber security professional takes up a multi-layer approach. Many layers of production are not redundant but backup if one layer fails. HR- data can be secured by using both the end-user and technical approach. Providing awareness and education for good stewards of data and controlling or forcing users to make the right choices is imperative. 

2. Identity– To secure HR data, ensure that the way to access data is easy and secure. Every system housing HR data must have a federated login as it uses a primary source of identity, such as Active Directory. A federated login validates username, password, and users’ right to access. The password mandates the organization’s complexity policies and makes it easy for users to login. The next step is to add two-factor authentication to every HR system. Multi-factor authentication is the most effective. It can be a pin or a biometric check. There is a little friction, but the risk of credential theft is reduced. 

3. Infrastructure– HR users work from places other than the office. With freedom comes data security threats. Installing a VPN and ensuring all HR systems are accessible from the inside of the corporate network connected to VPN is essential. VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between users and the network. It prevents snooping and requires authentication. There are three security layers enabling trust. 

4. Usage– No anomalous access can take place. Having useful analytics and logging software helps. AI and ML solutions are utilized to increase security. Logging solutions verify usage and questionable practices. In the case of insider threats and compromised accounts, this serves as an early warning system. Comprehensive analytics solutions notice behavior trends and flag accounts alerting the administrator. Accounts are automatically disabled if VPN is out of the geographical area. More in-depth investigation takes place, and the scope of the damage is reduced. 

5. User– Security training is one of the essential components of information security. End users are highly vulnerable because they have internal access. The human element is a high-risk factor as humans are more comfortable to hack than passwords. When people aren’t educated about red flags, social engineering attacks succeed. They are the most straightforward and least costly way for an attacker with excellent social skills. These cyber-attacks require no specialized technical skills. The most critical part is a robust layered security model—awareness about social engineering and phishing arm the staff to dodge malicious activities. 


Role of Human Resource

Along with information technology professionals, human resources teams play a crucial role in fighting cybercrime. Several cyber security problems emerge due to the actions of an organization’s workforce. HR Data is vulnerable to attack, private, and highly sensitive, like bank details and addresses. Thus HR professionals need to work closely with the cyber security expert to protect their department’s and company’s data. It is essential to understand the threats cyber security poses. Companies use sophisticated software systems to help curtail the risk of cyberattacks. The biggest threats are posed by a group of hackers that targets a company through phishing. The technique can take up many forms but involves impersonation typically via emails from trustworthy sources. The emails have malicious malware that hacks sensitive data. Careless mistakes by employees like logging into insecure networks, and conscious malicious attacks from former employees are common threats. 




HR needs to deliver effective employee services and keep their data safe no matter where the job gets done. Even though every aspect of work can’t be controlled, sensitive HR data can be kept safe by these steps: controlling accounts, monitoring, and accessing essential steps. The end-user needs to be directly armed by training and creating a pro-active system of prevention, swift remediation, and early warnings. There is no one perfect way to protect HR data, but multiple, overlapping security layers can help with valuable HR assets and work HR employees do. 


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