10 Key HRMS Data Security Threats During COVID-19

Social distancing has become the norm during these distressing times of COVID-19. And remote work culture has played out to be an efficient means of practicing social distancing. The transition from in-office employment to working from homes have conferred businesses with a formidable task.

And more so, during these different means of work, are increasing data security threats, besides many other challenges. This calls for businesses to monitor their HRMS security and thereby keep all employee data safe.

HRMS Platforms and Surge in Its Active Surge

The Human Resource Management System is the backbone of all businesses. It enhances the productivity and efficiency of the work by consolidating data and also automating all repetitive manual tasks.

HRMS platforms aid in bringing all the core HR functions under a single hub. Commonly integrated HRMS modules assist the following:

· Employee recruitment and on-boarding

· Payroll management

· Time management

· Tracking employee performance

· Workforce data reports and analytics

Human resource teams are greatly benefited by these HRMS modules. And this speaks volumes on the surge of its usage. Some of the popular HRMS platforms that most businesses utilize include BambooHR, Zoho People, Bitrix24, Darwinbox etc.

Though there are many advantages to the HRMS, it has its downsides, and the crucial one being HRMS security.

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Top 10 HRMS Data Security Threats

1. Data Breach

A data breach, also known as data leak, is a critical fear in cloud-based HRMS. This occurs due to cloud computing security attacks. Unauthorized people or applications would gain access to acquire, manipulate, and transmit employee data and other confidential information.

2. Denial of Service (DoS)

The DoS cloud attack could shut down all cloud services so that they become temporarily unavailable to the users. Extensive traffic that can't be buffered is fed to the system; else it is crashed by leveraging the bugs.

3. Crypto-jacking

As cryptocurrency has been gaining popularity so has crypto-jacking been. Here, hackers use the computing resources to process transactions with cryptocurrencies. Without an organization’s consent, a crypto mining script is installed in the servers. This is yet another crucial cloud HRMS security threat.

4. Insecure APIs

Even if an organization's systems are considered secure, through IoT solutions, unauthorized people could pose data security threats. For instance, through IoT sensors, various appliances, sensitive data could be collected and transmitted in real-time. Through this, hackers could hijack data by attacking the APIs without touching the cloud in itself.

5. Account Hijacking

In certain circumstances, hackers could even guess the cloud login credentials even if default and insecure passwords are not used. Thus, they could gain access to the cloud and steal employee data, consumer data, and other sensitive data to sabotage businesses.

6. BYOD Factor

Many organizations implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program to cater to the need of personal device usage. But this has resulted in increased data security threats.

Information security is a concern in all transactions. Even more so, when payroll and employee data and other sensitive data are housed. This could pose serious HRMS security threats. As good practice, it’s therefore essential to embark secure policies and protocols across all devices.

7. Mobile Applications

Since mobile apps charge a constant transaction of data between the internet and the cloud, HRMS security is vulnerable to threats. Coupled with BYOD programs, there is a greater risk of breaching employee data.

For this, the in-house policies should consider whether certain banned apps are yet worthwhile. If so, protocols on how they’d be monitored must be established.

8. Legislation Compliance

Even if data can reside safely and be secured from cyberattacks, there arises a risk factor of non-compliance with the legislation. The US HIPAA act’s demand for native encryption on devices that house relevant data is a case in point.

9. Litigation Exposure

Employee data ought to be safeguarded under good HRMS security practices. For mislaying information could exhort legal action from the victimized employee.

10. Human Error

Keeping technical details aside, there are chances for data breaches to occur solely on account of lack of awareness amidst users. Since lack of awareness leads to a lack of care, it invariably leads to the loss of HR data. This is predominant with the BYOD factor giving malware a point of entry.

Major Costs Associated with Data Breaches and Loss of Employee Data

Compromising on data security would lead to serious repercussions. Businesses could take financial hits, and the loss of employee data can hurt an organization’s bottom line gravely. The three major costs associated with data security are discussed below.

· Reputation Detriment

A data breach would be noticed by everyone associated with the corresponding organization. This could lead to clients withholding their projects or even terminating them. Amaze-balls employees could be lost in the process. Shortly, it would become hard for the organization to regain the limelight it once amassed.

· Regulation Costs

In the US, organizations are liable to be sued when failing to comply with federal laws such as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These laws regulate the protection of confidential information about employees and consumers.

In the UK and the European Economic Area states, organizations failing to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation legislation would pronounce grave fiscal costs to the organizations. Under this law, businesses that fail to rightly disclose the data breaches within three days would be subjected to a fine of €2 million.

· Litigation Costs & Costs Associated with Malware Attacks

Besides the legislation in itself, the states could take matters to a task. For instance, the attorney general of Washington filed a lawsuit against Uber following its revelation of a previously undisclosed data breach.

Furthermore, the lawsuits are often favourably disposed to employees whose data was breached. Even under situations where laws do not require them to do so. Then, rebounding from the malware damage would also claim a fortune.

Identity Theft at Work

Stealing personal information from social security numbers and the like is increasing greatly. Therefore, HRMS security must be well prepared and monitored. Any employee who falls prey to identity theft could make the organization dwindle in its performance for quite a while. The following are the first ideal courses of actions that should be undertaken when employee data gets stolen.

· Stop the data breach

· Assess the damage

· Notify the victim

· Undertake a security audit

· Update recovery plan

· Prepare for future attacks

Following these steps shall prevent the worse from becoming the worst.

Nevertheless, no organization would want to crawl under the cumbersome load of identity theft. Thus, preventive measures must be in place. And some of them on how HR can protect employee data are discussed below.

Steps to Protect Employee Data

Step-1: Continuous Training - Risk Assessment and Periodic Vulnerability Assessment Checks

The HR should ideally educate employees on the risks that identity thefts impose on the organization as well as the victims. While it costs a fortune to the company, it would take several hours and even months for the victim to be fully repaired.

The following bullet-ins are cyber attack symptoms that HR should make the employees aware of.

· Grammatical and spelling errors throughout

· Incorrect and unauthentic contact information in the signature

· Different URL than specified

· Request for private information from a suspicious company

Step 2: Developing A Comprehensive Security Strategy to Keep Data Safe and Secure

Integrating with the IT team to develop a backup cybersecurity plan is vital. To develop a robust strategy, the following questionnaire shall be used.

· How will the sensitive data be encrypted?

· How will internal risk assessments be carried out?

· Who will conduct the employee training?

· Who will constitute the in-house team to address security tasks?

· How should the incident response policy be structured?

Step 3: Identity Protection

Besides educating employees and forming a task force, identity protection shall be offered as an employee benefit. Such a service would protect employees from missing work hours, compromising the productivity, and enduring fiscal losses.

Step 4: Keeping Security on Top of The Mind

As the remote work culture permits work from mobile devices, data security threats conversely increase. Irrespective of the device that employees use, whether BYOD or iOS or Android, multi-layered security protocols must be enforced.

Next Steps

To lessen data security threats, it would prove savvy for HR to endorse automated vulnerability assessment solutions. To start with, organizations could leverage Appknox’ Vulnerability assessment such as the SAST, DAST, and APIT. Upon completion of vulnerability assessment, penetration testing shall be carried out for an in-depth approach.

Ultimately, employing the products mentioned above to check vulnerability would help to minimize data breach and enhance HRMS security. This move would be a win-win for both the organization and the employees.




Published on May 1, 2020
Chaitanya GVS
Written by Chaitanya GVS
Chaitanya Heads growth and full-funnel user acquisition at Appknox.


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