A significant amount of personal data is submitted to a company before and during the period of employment. This means that your employer has access to and stores a lot of personal data from your name and residential address to your educational records. Unfortunately, this information is not always stored safely or kept private. If your personal data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to serious consequences for you. Cyberprivacy is very important for both employers and employees.
It is considered a data breach when there is a breach of security that leads to loss, destruction, unauthorized disclosure of, alteration or access to your personal information. This might occur due to deliberate causes or accidental ones. A broad definition of a personal data breach at work is a security incident that affects the availability, integrity or confidentiality of your information.
Different ways Personal Data Breach Occur at Work
A personal data breach can occur in various ways:
- If an unauthorized third party accesses the data
- If your personal data is sent to incorrect recipients by mistake
- If there is accidental or deliberate action by a processor or controller
- If there is theft or loss of any computing devices that store your personal data
- If your personal data is altered without your knowledge or permission
- If your data is misused by employers or other employees
Consequences of a Personal Data Breach at Work
If a personal data breach at work is not addressed in a timely and appropriate manner, it can lead to a lot of damage for the person whose data has been compromised. There is a wide range of adverse effects that a breach can have on an individual. It includes emotional distress and material damage. While some breaches will not have a very significant impact, some can be quite consequential. An employee can also choose to claim compensation from the company or employer in such situations.
The following are some possible adverse effects of a personal data breach at work:
- Identity fraud or theft
- Financial loss
- Physical or material damage like loss of control over the data
- Damage to reputation
- Social damage due to the nature of the data
- Loss of confidentiality
Why Workplaces should prioritize their Employees’ Data Privacy?
Workplaces should always have a robust security system that protects employee data as far as possible. There should be strict control over the people who have access to such sensitive data and should be limited. There should also be proper protocol in place to detect and report any possible data breaches. It is important to inform employees of such personal data breaches so they can take the appropriate measures to protect themselves. If you suspect or have been informed of a personal data breach at your workplace, you need to communicate with your employers about what the status of the investigation is and how they intend to help you mitigate damage or offer compensation.
When a workplace fails to fulfill security obligations, employees can usually make claims for compensation. If your personal information has been compromised and used by cybercriminals for any financial crimes, you can claim for those losses. There is always a high risk of identity theft, credit card fraud and similar crimes that can affect your financial status after a personal data breach. This is why it is essential to monitor accounts, credit cards, etc carefully to spot any suspicious activity. The loss of sensitive personal information is also a cause for significant mental distress. Damages are often sought for the effect of a data breach on the person’s physical or mental well-being as well these days.
While seeking claims for personal data breach is an option, it is even more important for the employee to take steps to secure themselves as much as possible following the breach. This includes changing all current passwords to different and stronger passwords. Another step is to temporarily freeze credit so no importer can claim credit using your identity.
An ethical company will usually help the employees take certain steps for better security after such data breaches. If your company has suffered a data breach, communicate and stay updated with any developments to cover your personal interest and protect yourself. Different countries have different laws and regulations in place to protect employees from such data breaches. Employers and employees should always keep these in mind at the time of hiring and during the period of employment. Employees should also be more careful about reading the contract with the employer to check how their data will be protected during the employment period. A higher level of attention to security on both fronts will benefit everyone at the workplace in the long run.