Dialogue Series

Why HR Teams Need to Master Managing Data Security – and How Personio Can Help


Human Resources — more commonly referred to as HR — is one of the fastest-growing fields on the market, specifically for tech industries. As the workforce begins to embrace remote and hybrid work environments and introduce new data security challenges, managing sensitive data protection in the HR profession is becoming an increasingly prevalent focus for departments across the globe.

My name is Michael Sieper and I am the Senior Security Engineer at Personio. As a holistic HR software company for small and medium-sized businesses, we help HR professionals save time and focus on what matters most: their employees. From recruiting and onboarding to payroll and business management, our software optimizes time-consuming HR processes to help digitally manage the whole employee lifecycle.

The management of employee information also comes with the responsibility to keep sensitive data secure. In this episode of the DevSecTalks series, I sat down with host Ashley Ward to discuss the security processes needed to manage data security for HR professionals, as well as the challenges of managing sensitive employee data within our rapidly growing organization.

What Is Sensitive Data?

Sensitive data can be defined as any form of confidential data, such as financial, medical, or personally identifiable information (PII). These details are a bit more personal compared to standard information, which includes info (such as your name or email address) that can be found online or on public display. Sensitive data, on the other hand, is any information that is not public knowledge and requires safeguarding for the protection of the data’s owner.

There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to sensitive data, but the overarching goal is to protect this information from unauthorized access. For HR professionals who are tasked with handling sensitive information on a recurring basis, mitigating the risks of a data breach is especially prevalent. Organizations that manage sensitive data require robust strategies and guidelines to ensure optimal safety, security, and protection of this confidential knowledge.

Managing Sensitive Data with a Single Source of Truth

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all solution” for managing sensitive data. Organizations are encouraged to explore every means necessary to discover what kind of security regulations work best for their employees, and customize their regulations to match those needs. Different organizations and different industries require different privacy needs, so it’s important to establish a program that is tailored specifically to the needs of your company.

As new challenges arise in the modern workforce, traditional and manual processes often struggle to meet the organization’s demand for effective data classification. In fact, we are still seeing many teams, especially in smaller companies, using spreadsheets as a means for handling their employees’ crucial data.

At Personio, our goal is to be the single source of truth for all sensitive data within a company. By taking a people-first approach to managing information, our organization ensures that security is at the forefront of everything that we do. The idea is to create a baseline for everyone’s decisions using the same data within an integrated platform. This single source of truth creates a secure path for privacy management, regulatory affirmations, and compliance needs.

In order for an organization’s HR department to become a strategic business partner, the professionals need a solid foundation for their core processes. Establishing a single source of truth for sensitive data and processes has helped our HR professionals easily get things done without an extensive amount of manual work. It has also allowed them to concentrate more on developing the employees in other areas of work, such as management and performance.

The Role of DevSecOps in Data Security

DevSecOps plays a key role in ensuring that sensitive data is protected within an organization. Known as the practice of integrating security into every stage of the development lifecycle, this approach identifies vulnerabilities as soon as possible, rather than during a passive quality assurance test.

Additionally, implementing a DevSecOps approach means identifying what security means to an organization, and what the best practices are for managing any security concerns. Software developers, operations teams, and HR professionals alike all need to understand how security is defined within their services.

HR professionals know that handling sensitive employee data — and even job candidates’ data — is no easy feat. Personio’s own processes and structures are based on best practices and guidelines, such as ISO/IEC 27001, to ensure HR professionals who use our platform are able to maintain greater control over the sensitive information they are responsible for. It takes the guesswork out of data protection.

Maintaining Data Security in a Digital Transformation

As a rapidly growing organization, Personio continues to foster digital transformation, especially in the field of HR. Our organization is nearly six years old, with offices and employee count quickly increasing across the workforce. Our mission is to continue enabling better organizations by providing HR professionals with the tools and practices they need to be successful.

If you would like to learn more about how we make core HR processes as simple as possible, visit our website for more information.

Did you enjoy this episode of DevSecTalks? Visit our website and tune in to our other sessions to hear from more DevSec industry experts who are building the future of cloud security.