HR professionals may think it's the job of the IT department to ensure confidential files and information remain secure, but the HR department is just as important – if not more so – to the proper handling of these documents. If HR professionals are still using paper documents that are stored in filing cabinets instead of electronic files within human resources management software, they could be putting the security of the information contained in the materials at risk of exposure.
According to TLNT, it's hard to monitor access to paper documents, even if they are stored in a locked cabinet or folder. Someone can gain access to keys to these cases, and there is always the potential that documents that are taken out of these secure locations, get lost or are looked at by an unauthorized person. For instance, HR professionals can copy materials and unintentionally lose one of them, or documents can be circulated for approval among management and copied without authorization. When HR professionals hold on to paper documents, they put their organization at risk for a data breach.
There are government regulations regarding the confidentiality of sensitive employee data, and these extend to electronic HR solutions. However, while most of these systems can reduce the risk of information getting into the hands of unauthorized individuals, HR professionals can't slack on their management of worker data and the security of multiple electronic locations.
Think Like IT
While keeping employee information secure resides with HR departments, these professionals need to understand the correct ways to manage this data. According to Computerworld, HR departments would do well to learn some information security tips from IT professionals. Joshua Mauk, information security officer at the University of Nebraska, told Computerworld HR representatives should be selective about the types of information they collect from workers and need to monitor all stored employee data.
Consider these examples: Mauk said the university had once kept the Social Security numbers of its workers to identify them, but this information is especially sensitive, and, if lost, could have drastic consequences for those employees. The university realized this risk, and reduced the amount of information it gathered from workers to prevent a breach. It also gave each worker his or her own employee identification number. In addition, Mauk told Computerworld he found sensitive information in unmanaged areas of the university's server. He advised that HR professionals be careful with how they protect information.
Choose the Right Software
It might be a great idea for HR departments to partner with their companies' IT departments to develop policies that ensure information is kept safe. But one of the things HR professionals can do to maintain confidentiality is to find the right electronic HR solution in which to store and manage their employee data. According to the TLNT article, employee management software is able to ensure only certain users gain access to information and are able to change that information, which is important to prevent lost files and compromised information.