Everyone worries about becoming a victim of data theft, but how much do they do to protect their data? Many of us reuse passwords like it’s our job; some of us even use the same passwords for our accounts at work as we do for personal accounts. It is easy to get lazy when every website wants you to log in to access it and when so many family members want to use your Netflix account that you need a password that is easy for the whole family to remember. You are not to blame, however; you are just an employee trying to make ends meet by working a salaried job and innumerable gigs while sharing your Netflix access with your extended family instead of buying each household its own account.
Data theft and data privacy are much bigger problems. They are not your problem personally unless your data gets stolen. If a data breach occurs at your workplace, however, it can make you vulnerable to identity theft and cause your employer to be liable for your financial losses and those of the other people who suffered identity theft as a result of the data breach. The Spokane data breach lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP, can help you if a data breach has occurred at your organization, and even if no data breaches have occurred, they can help you improve your cybersecurity to prevent data breaches.
Does Your Workplace Have Any Data Worth Stealing?
If your knowledge of hacking and cybercrime comes from movies, you might think that the most attractive targets for data breaches would be government offices that store enormous volumes of confidential information in digital files. In fact, not all hackers are trying to steal information that will change the course of world history. They might be content with some boring old credit card numbers. Identity theft is the goal of most workplace data breaches. This means that if your employer’s computers contain customers’ credit card numbers or the bank account numbers that employees use for direct deposit, then it is a desirable target for a data breach. If your company’s computers also store the addresses, birthdates, or Social Security numbers of employees or customers, these are also prime targets for data theft, as they enable identity thieves to impersonate victims more effectively. In short, if your company processes payroll or takes payment from customers, it probably has information that hackers want to steal.
What is a Workplace Data Breach?
A workplace data breach is when hackers infiltrate the computer network of a business or the office of a government department or nonprofit organization. Many workplace data breaches are the result of email phishing scams. In a phishing scam, the hacker sends an email that looks like it came from within the victim’s organization. The phishing email asks the employee to “confirm” or “verify” a password or other piece of information; in fact, the employee is revealing the password to a hacker, who then uses it to gain access to the victim’s email account or work computer. Only one employee needs to fall for a phishing scam for the hackers to steal hundreds of people’s financial information or identifying details. One phishing email can be the catalyst for thousands of cases of identity theft.
Legal Repercussions of Workplace Data Breaches
The immediate consequence of a workplace data breach is that victims start to notice signs of identity theft. If they are lucky, their banks will send them alerts about alleged fraudulent activity, and they can stop the financial losses before they start. If not, the victims might not find out about the identity theft until they see unauthorized transactions on their credit card statements or notice an unexpected drop in their credit score when they apply for the loan.
This is when the real trouble begins for the company that was the target of the data breach. Customers and employees whose data got stolen because of a data breach at a business have the right to sue that business for the financial losses they suffered because of the identity theft that was the result of the data breach. HKM Employment Attorneys LLP has represented plaintiffs in several class action lawsuits involving data breaches where thousands of people became victims of identity theft because of data breaches at businesses. In a class action lawsuit, a large number of plaintiffs suffered financial harm because of the defendant’s negligence, and then the plaintiffs share the settlement amount or the damages that the court orders the defendants to pay.
How to Prevent Data Breaches at Your Place of Employment
The worst thing about workplace data breaches is that almost all of them are preventable. Basic cybersecurity measures are sufficient to detect threats to a company’s computer network and stop data breaches before they start. If your company does not have the budget to hire a full-time cybersecurity team, you should at least hire cybersecurity experts on a consulting basis. Have them test the ability of your company’s computer network to resist data breaches, and have them apply patches that have recently become available to prevent infiltration by recently created computer viruses. In some of the biggest class action settlements over data breaches, a patch was available for the virus that invaded the network, but the targeted company failed to apply it.
Even if you cannot afford your own in-house cybersecurity team, there are some simple measures your company can take that can go a long way toward preventing cyberattacks. For example, making employees use strong passwords and change them several times per year is an effective strategy, and so is requiring two-factor authentication for access to company devices.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP, About Data Breaches
The Spokane employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP, can help you if your employer has been the target of a data breach, causing the theft of sensitive information belonging to customers and employees. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Spokane, Washington, to set up a consultation.