Cybercriminals have cranked up attacks on organizations, and they’re turning information systems upside down looking for valuable personal data they can steal. No database seems to be safe these days, and as hacking activities intensify, employee benefit and welfare plans have become uniquely vulnerable to data theft and inadvertent disclosure.
Whether a pension plan is privately or publicly sponsored, it may still expose employees to cyber threats leading to the theft of sensitive personal information. However, most companies don’t appreciate the gravity of such cyber-risks. Additionally, they’re not doing enough to secure their employee benefit plans against possible data theft and fraudulent use of stolen sensitive information.
Why are Employee Benefit Plans Vulnerable to Data Loss or Theft?
Two main concerns make employee benefits plans a soft and lucrative target for hackers: Inadequate cybersecurity measures and the black market-value of participants’ information. Here are the cyber risk factors that employers need to consider:
Participant Information at the Highest Risk of Breach
Usually, employee benefit plans hold sensitive data that criminals may access and use in various forms of identity theft. Here are some of the most lucrative pieces of personal information targeted by cybercriminals:
Employers and benefit scheme administrators can protect sensitive employee information against cyber risks in several practical ways. The 2016 DOL Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans report provided four main cybersecurity recommendations:
1. Employee Training
A complete cybersecurity strategy includes the training of all personnel interacting with benefit plan data or information systems. Employers should also ensure that all third-party providers collecting, storing, or transmitting their benefit plan data are training their personnel adequately. For example, employees require training to understand and avoid email phishing schemes.
2. Data Management
Implementing a proper data management and protection strategy keeps benefit plan cyber threats further away. It includes precautions such as:
3. Technology Management
The administrators of employee welfare plans are better off utilizing modern technology to store and process sensitive personal data. Secure on-premise or cloud-based systems along with advanced encryption technology usually provide significant levels of data security.
4. Service Provider Management
It’s critical to assess the cybersecurity programs that third-party providers implement to protect employee benefit plan data. Organizations do well to establish conditions for allowing data access to these providers.
Getting Professional Help
While cybersecurity keeps changing with evolving threats, many employee benefit plan administrators are unable to keep pace with the advanced technology required to secure sensitive personal information. Thankfully, companies may turn to cybersecurity experts for help protecting their on-premise and cloud-hosted software and storage devices.
At Kraft Technology Group, we provide safeguard solutions against both traditional and emerging cyber risks. Contact us today for help developing a secure digital perimeter around your benefit plan’s IT infrastructure!