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Ensuring data security in your HRIS implementation

Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) are integral to managing employee data efficiently and effectively. These systems store, process, and manage sensitive information ranging from personal identifiers to performance records.

Nikos Dimos
Nikos Dimos

Nikos is our VP of Engineering at Workable, specializing in Data Security.

data security in your HRIS

As the reliance on digital solutions increases, so does the risk of data breaches and security threats. Ensuring the security of an HRIS is not just about protecting data; it’s about safeguarding employee trust and complying with stringent regulatory requirements.

Key security features to look for

When evaluating an HRIS, several security features are paramount. These not only protect against unauthorized access but also ensure that the data remains intact and confidential throughout its lifecycle in the system.

Data encryption

  • Encryption at-rest protects data stored on physical or virtual disks from unauthorized access by encrypting the data while it is not actively being used.
  • Encryption in-transit safeguards data as it moves between systems, ensuring that intercepted data cannot be read without the appropriate decryption keys.
  • Encryption in-use may also be provided, which encrypts data even when it is being processed, providing an additional layer of security.

Compliance with data protection regulations

An HRIS should comply with key data protection regulations relevant to the organization’s location and operations. 

This not only includes GDPR but may also involve local privacy laws and sector-specific regulations like HIPAA in healthcare.

Compliance ensures that the HRIS provider is following best practices for data privacy and security, which helps in protecting against legal and financial repercussions.

Access controls

Effective HRIS systems implement robust role-based access controls (RBAC) that restrict access based on the user’s role within the organization. This means that individuals can only access information that is pertinent to their job functions.

These controls help minimize the risk of data exposure internally and play a crucial role in preventing data leaks.

Each of these features contributes to a secure HRIS environment, ensuring that employee data is protected from both external attacks and internal misuse. As businesses increasingly rely on digital tools for human resources management, the security of these systems cannot be overstated.

This beginning sets the stage for your article by defining the importance of HRIS security, introducing essential concepts, and detailing key security features.

It will help guide your readers through the critical elements to look for when assessing the security of their HRIS provider.

Advanced security practices

While basic security measures are essential, advanced security practices provide additional layers of protection and monitoring that can significantly enhance the robustness of an HRIS. 

These include proactive monitoring and alerts, regular security audits, and enhanced user authentication and secure connections.

Proactive monitoring and alerts

Continuous monitoring involves tracking all activities within the HRIS to identify and react to abnormal behavior or potential security threats promptly. This not only helps in detecting breaches early but also in preventing them.

Security alerts are automated notifications that inform system administrators and security teams about unusual activities. These alerts enable quick response to potential threats, helping to mitigate risks before they escalate.

Regular security audits

Conducting regular technical security audits is crucial for maintaining the integrity of an HRIS. These audits assess the effectiveness of the security measures in place and identify any vulnerabilities or areas for improvement.

Audits can be performed internally by dedicated security red teams or externally by third-party security specialists. Regular reviews ensure compliance with security policies and standards, and they keep security practices up to date with the latest threats.

User authentication and secure connections

Strong user authentication methods, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), biometrics, or single sign-on (SSO), are critical for verifying the identity of users accessing the system. 

These methods help prevent unauthorized access by ensuring that only legitimate users can log in.

Secure connections, typically implemented through TLS protocols, encrypt data exchanged between users and the HRIS. This ensures that data remains private and unaltered during transmission, protecting against interception by malicious actors.

Vendor transparency and trust

Choosing an HRIS provider involves more than just evaluating their product; it also requires assessing the provider’s business practices, particularly their transparency and commitment to security.

Transparency in how an HRIS provider handles security is indicative of their reliability and trustworthiness. Providers should clearly communicate their security measures, policies, and any relevant certifications.

Building trust through open communication

Regular updates from the provider about new security measures, as well as timely disclosures about potential or actual security breaches, are crucial for maintaining trust.

Engaging with providers about their security practices and receiving satisfactory responses demonstrates their commitment to protecting client data.

Evaluating your HRIS provider

When assessing potential HRIS providers, it is essential to perform a thorough evaluation of their security features and practices. Always have in mind that prevention is always better than cure. 

This evaluation helps ensure that the provider can adequately protect sensitive employee data.

Steps to assess a provider’s security

  1. Review the security features outlined earlier in this article. Ensure that the provider meets or exceeds these basic and advanced security requirements.
  2. Ask specific questions about the provider’s data handling and security practices, including data storage, encryption methods, and how they manage data breaches.
  3. Check for independent security certifications like ISO/IEC 27001, which indicate adherence to high security standards.

Questions to ask providers

  • What encryption methods do you use for data at rest and in transit?
  • How do you handle and respond to data breaches?
  • What third-party security audits or certifications do you have?

Red flags in provider security

  1. Lack of clear and direct responses to security inquiries.
  2. Absence of regular and transparent security audits.
  3. No evident compliance with international data protection regulations.

At Workable one of the most compelling testaments to our confidence in our security measures is our use of the Workable HRIS tool.

As a true example of ‘dogfooding,’ we use our platform to store sensitive information such as our employee data. 

We do this not because it’s convenient, but because we trust the controls in place that protect data confidentiality and integrity. 

Remember, the strength of your HRIS security affects not just the operational aspects of your business, but also its moral and legal standing. Choose wisely, act responsibly, and prioritize security in every decision related to your HRIS.

Additional resources

To deepen your understanding of HRIS security and stay updated on the latest trends and practices, consider the following resources:

Frequently asked questions

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