Should HR employees step up after the Anthem health insurance breach?

An HR department should take initiative in preserving better security standards.

An HR department should take initiative in preserving better security standards.

Recently, the head of the Anthem health insurance company, Joseph Swedish, announced that his business had been affected by a massive cyberattack that  could have potentially hurt many individuals, both customers and employees, including him. This incident should highlight the importance of safety for HR personnel as well, since these employees also have to interact with lots of sensitive personal information.

As such, HR professionals should try to ensure greater privacy and data security is upheld in response to this and similar attacks. This is an easier task when these departments have access to HRIS software systems that are well-organized and comprehensive.

News source WSBT 22 recently spoke to Melissa Lock, an HR director for Schurz Communications who said that the range of the possible damage from this healthcare breach "hits home" for her because she has children.

The medical records of minors are said to be even more at risk: If employees include their family in their company-sponsored insurance plan, then their data could also be among that which was illicitly accessed.

"It's out of your control," Lock said. "We take our measures in house to protect data and we trust others to protect our employees' data."

As a response, companies should start seeing HR as a way to protect against data breaches with more intelligent solutions. One simple response is to enforce stronger passwords and other protections whenever sensitive information is used within the department, and to apply those changes across the board so all employees use the same level of security.

HR is far from the only department that needs to make sure they handle employee information properly, but they can reduce the potential for breaches by paying attention to possible problem situations.