Overview: One component of a risk management plan is protection of data. Every employer manages sensitive employer data. Whether it is client lists, future plans or other trade secrets makes little difference: employers should do everything in their power to protect this information from theft.
Data could be stolen from an inside source (such as an employee) or an outside source (such as a hacker). Employers should do their utmost to protect against both scenarios. From an HR perspective, there are employee concerns from both angles. The first relates to any data that the employer wants to protect from the employee, e.g., trade secrets. The second relates to data stolen that contains employee information.
HR, IT and any other relevant work group need to implement security measures that will both stop employees from stealing data and stop any unauthorized person from accessing employee information. Policies and employment agreements might help with some employee-related theft, whereas stronger password protections and spamming technology, along with greater employee education, are some ways to begin with the latter.
Trends: States have taken steps to protect individuals' personal information. For example, some states have passed laws protecting employees' Social Security numbers. Many states have passed or amended data breach notification laws requiring employers to notify affected individuals in the event of a data breach; however, some laws make exceptions if an employer has taken steps to encrypt the data so it is unreadable or indecipherable to an unauthorized person.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
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HR guidance on safeguarding employer sensitive data against theft.