Breach of Confidentiality: 7 Ways to Protect the Workplace (2023)

Breach of Confidentiality: 7 Ways to Protect the Workplace (1)

Am 6. Juni 2012, die Business-Social-Networking-SiteLinkedIn reported that cyber attackers stole the credentials of 6.5 million users. That number later rose to 117 million. Beneath those usernames and passwords was a Dropbox employee. In a perfect world, this story ends with the Dropbox employee changing his LinkedIn password. No damage, no fault. This is not that story...

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(Video) What is Confidentiality? Different types, Examples and breach of confidentiality

on August 1, 2012,The news came that Dropbox was hacked. The Dropbox employeeuse the same password for LinkedIn and Dropbox. When the attackers accessed this employee's cloud drive account, they downloaded the files it contained68 million Dropbox usernames and passwords.

Dropbox injury highlights a bigger proworse than employees who ignore password policies and even store sensitive information inappropriately. As users, we treat all of our cloud drives as physical hard drives. We don't stop and wonder if this file is safe. We save it in a folder on our computer and then we can easily access it from all our devices. We are unaware that they are sent to a web server, often outside of our control. We forget that our files may not exist on a hard drive we own.

Now consider what information you store on your company's computers and devices. How many files contain trade secrets? Do your invoices contain sensitive customer information, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers? How does Human Resources store employee information, such as identification numbers, bank account information, and performance reviews?

To put this in perspective,In 2018, a single stolen confidential record cost the company an average of $148 globally, 4.8% more than in 2017. This applies to all sectors. For the healthcare industry, the average cost was $408. In the financial services industry, a single stolen record costs an average of $206.

Now multiply these averages by your total number of customers, your total number of employees, and the number of customers and employees associated with the subsidiaries. Does this number scare you?


By all accounts, the 2012 Dropbox breach was not catastrophic. The breach of confidentiality killed Dropbox. It wasn't a snowball to include confidential files from other companies that were stored in Dropbox. We won't be so lucky again.

Unfortunately, third-party service providers and cyber attackers are not the only sources of confidentiality breaches. Your employees and contractors, including freelancers, are other potential sources.

(Video) Why should you maintain confidentiality in the Work Place?

For example in 2015Carilion Clinic has fired several employeesafter accessing high-profile patient records "without a legitimate need for patient care." You are not alone. According to Verizon's Protected Health Information Data Breach Report, 58% of all breaches of confidentiality in the healthcare industry involve insiders.

By following theseencrypted messagingBest practices can help you prevent breaches of confidentiality, whether they originate internally, from a service provider, or from cyber attackers targeting your organization, and minimize the risks associated with breaches of confidentiality.

1. Define your organization's sensitive information.

List all information, business practices, and trade secrets collected from customers and employees. Divide them into two categories: proprietary information and information critical to your business operations.

For example, usernames and passwords, customer postal addresses, and employee phone numbers all fall into the first category. As a general rule, you will maintain the confidentiality of any information others provide to you, even if not required by law, as this will protect and help protect your reputation.Data Protection Compliance.

The second category includes the strategy for your company's planned expansion into the Chinese market. By keeping your business practices and trade secrets confidential, you protect your future earnings.

2. Have a written confidentiality policy.

Using your organization's confidential information list, create a confidentiality policy that details what information your organization considers confidential and the procedures employees must follow to protect that information. Keep the language simple and focus on simple steps.

Remember, your employees don't care about your company's obligations under Article 25 GDPR. You only care about the what and the how.

(Video) Navigating Confidentiality In the Workplace

3. Manage access to folders and limit employees and contractors to the information they need.

Restricting access to sensitive information limits the harm that individual employees can cause by sharing sensitive information. For example,Some healthcare organizations only give doctors unlimited access to their current patient records..

Here is the catch. When it comes to sensitive information, there's a fine line between too little and too much. At times, an employee may need to access confidential information that, according to the employee's confidentiality policy, should not be accessible to them. As he establishes these access controls, he must also create procedures for his employees to access information from another department or information that is above his salary level. These procedures should ask why the employee needs the information and include a time limit for a response and an appeal procedure.

4. Encrypt sensitive data, especially when it's on removable media like a USB drive or in the cloud.

If you can carry it in your hand like a tablet, cell phone, laptop, it should generally be encrypted. Cloud storage must include end-to-end encryption with encryption at rest.

5. Prevent employees from accessing customer data over non-private networks, like public Wi-Fi at the neighborhood coffee shop.

In practice, you can't enforce a security policy that prohibits employees from using public Wi-Fi networks, especially if you allow them to bring their own device. Instead, educate your employees about the dangers of protection and privacy, and don't forget to include horror stories.dark hoteland the Evil Twin attack are particularly effective.

6. Enforce password best practices and prohibit password reuse.

Enact security policies within your network that prohibit the reuse of old passwords, and enforce periodic password resets in accordance with your organization-wide password policy.

(Video) Protecting Personal Privacy

Your employees will hate this. Why would they replace their proven password that combines their eldest child's birth date and their dog's name with a password they can't remember? teach them.

Use the LinkedIn Dropbox debacle of 2012 to illustrate the dangers of using the same password for multiple services. Then ask them what if the stolen password was also linked to your Amazon account. A thief logs into his Amazon account and sends himself a €500 gift card paid for with his hard-earned money. Make the consequences personal to them, not your business.

Take this opportunity to encourage them to enable two-factor authentication for their personal accounts.

7. Enable and enforce two-factor authentication for all drives and cloud services.

While you can tell your employees not to reuse your company password for personal accounts, you can't enforce this policy. Enabling multi-factor authentication protects your organization from a repeat of the 2012 LinkedIn Dropbox attacks by placing an additional layer between the cyber attacker and your employee accounts.

How we handle our confidential files

Internally, we use RealTyme's secure containers feature in conjunction with our definitions of confidential information and confidentiality policies, including confidentiality agreements.

The Secure Container is our answer to cloud storage. It includes hosting and sharing of files and allows defined work groups that facilitate the daily management of projects.

Technically, the secure container uses military-grade end-to-end encryption (AES-256) with encryption both in transit and at rest. Our organization's installation also requires multi-factor authentication, which we highly recommend.

(Video) Security Awarness Video: 7 Tips for your employees to be able to identify and avoid risks

The RealTime Secure Container

To learn more about the RealTimeme Secure Container, how it can replace less secure cloud storage solutions, and how it integrates with our communication and collaboration suite,Contact Us.

Breach of Confidentiality: 7 Ways to Protect the Workplace (2)


How can you protect against breach of confidentiality? ›

Guidelines for data confidentiality
  1. Encrypt sensitive files. ...
  2. Manage data access. ...
  3. Physically secure devices and paper documents. ...
  4. Securely dispose of data, devices, and paper records. ...
  5. Manage data acquisition. ...
  6. Manage data utilization. ...
  7. Manage devices.

What is a breach of confidentiality in the workplace? ›

A breach of confidentiality occurs when one discloses an employee's private information to a third party without consent.

What is an example of how a company might violate client confidentiality? ›

Client Information Is Obtained by Third Parties

Hackers use emails, text messages, and online advertisements in an attempt to gain access to private information such as social security numbers, credit card information, or account passwords.

What would you do if you saw your colleagues leaked confidential information? ›

Notify the authorities and seek professional help in order to comply with any legal regulations that may be applicable. In circumstances where the employee is intentionally leaking data, it is best to take a prompt action through the formal disciplinary policy.

How can you protect confidentiality in the workplace? ›

  1. Businesses benefit from keeping certain information private. ...
  2. Add confidentiality clauses to contracts. ...
  3. Use Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) or Confidentiality Agreements. ...
  4. Develop confidentiality training and policies. ...
  5. Create an employee exit procedure. ...
  6. Dealing with breaches in confidentiality.

What are the 3 reasons to break confidentiality? ›

Situations in which confidentiality will need to be broken:

There is disclosure or evidence of physical, sexual or serious emotional abuse or neglect. Suicide is threatened or attempted. There is disclosure or evidence of serious self-harm (including drug or alcohol misuse that may be life-threatening).

What are three different examples of when confidentiality may have to be breached? ›

A person has been, or is likely to be, involved in a serious crime. A person is likely to harm others. Your safety is placed at risk. A child or vulnerable adult has suffered, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm.

When HR breaches confidentiality? ›

Consequences of HR confidentiality breaches

For example, HIPAA violations may result in fines ranging from $100 to $250,000 (up to an annual maximum of $1.5 million) and prison sentences of one to 10 years.

What are three 3 consequences of a breach of client confidentiality? ›

The consequences of a breach of confidentiality include dealing with the ramifications of lawsuits, loss of business relationships, and employee termination. This occurs when a confidentiality agreement, which is used as a legal tool for businesses and private citizens, is ignored.

What should HR keep confidential? ›

The Dimensions of Employee-HR Confidentiality

This data, which can pertain to age, sex, religion, race or national origin, must remain confidential. Similarly, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses and spousal information also must remain confidential within employee personnel files.

Which of the following is the best example of a breach in confidentiality? ›

An example of a breach of confidentiality could be if a freelancer works for a number of clients in the same industry and accidentally emails confidential business information to the wrong client. Another example is if there is sensitive information on a laptop and the laptop is stolen.

What to do if a coworker invades your privacy? ›

To find out about privacy protections in your state -- and what to do if you believe your privacy has been violated unlawfully at work -- contact your state department of labor. For legal help with an invasion of privacy or other employment-related case, contact a knowledgeable employment attorney in your area.

What is serious breach of confidentiality? ›

A breach of confidentiality is when private information is disclosed to a third party without the owner's consent. It can happen accidentally to anyone, from a sole trader or freelancer to a small business owner with several employees.

What are confidential situations in the workplace? ›

This can include salaries, employee perks, client lists, trade secrets, sales numbers, customer information, news about pending terminations, reasons for a firing, phone codes or computer passwords. You may not divulge this information while you are working for an employer or after you leave.

What is an example of protecting confidentiality? ›

These should include, for example: Ensuring that confidential information is always locked away at night, and not left unattended during the day; Password-protecting sensitive computer files; Marking confidential information clearly as such, and ensuring that paper copies are shredded before disposal; and.

How do we protect confidential information? ›

Best Practices to Safeguard Confidential Documents
  1. Don't leave sensitive information lying around. ...
  2. Shred documents in a secure way. ...
  3. Use anti-virus software. ...
  4. Install a firewall. ...
  5. Password-protect important files and systems. ...
  6. Don't reuse passwords. ...
  7. Don't email confidential material.
Jul 2, 2021

What is an example of protecting confidential information? ›

Keep all confidential information in a secure place. Do not leave it lying on your desk top or anywhere it can be easily accessed by unauthorized persons. It is best to keep it in a locked drawer or file cabinet. You may be asked to return all confidential information, or destroy it at the option of the owner.

What are the 8 principles of confidentiality? ›

The eight Caldicott principles are listed below as follows:

Justify the purpose for using confidential information. Don't use personal confidential data unless absolutely necessary. Use the minimum necessary personal confidential data. Access to personal confidential data should be on a strictly need-to-know basis.

What are the 4 ethical rules confidentiality? ›

The 4 main ethical principles, that is beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, are defined and explained. Informed consent, truth-telling, and confidentiality spring from the principle of autonomy, and each of them is discussed.

What are the rules of confidentiality? ›

The so-called common law duty of confidentiality is complex: essentially it means that when someone shares personal information in confidence it must not be disclosed without some form of legal authority or justification.

What are the 3 limits of confidentiality? ›

Potential Limits of Confidentiality
  • Limits Imposed Voluntarily (i.e., Not Legally Required) ...
  • Limits That Can Be Imposed by Law (i.e., Possible “Involuntary” Disclosures) ...
  • Possible Limitations on Confidentiality Created by Use of Technology in the Setting.

What are three methods that can be used to ensure confidentiality of? ›

Here are some of the 7 effective ways to ensure data confidentiality in your organization.
  • Restrict access to data. ...
  • Encrypt your data. ...
  • Implement a confidentiality policy. ...
  • Implement a data retention policy. ...
  • Develop and implement a cybersecurity program. ...
  • Take physical security measures. ...
  • Non-disclosure agreements.

What are the four tips given in order to avoid breaking the rules for workplace confidentiality? ›

What employees should do:
  • Lock or secure confidential information at all times.
  • Shred confidential documents when they're no longer needed.
  • Make sure they only view confidential information on secure devices.
  • Only disclose information to other employees when it's necessary and authorized.

What is an example where confidentiality would be broken? ›

Here're some examples of ways you could unintentionally break patient/therapist confidentiality: Sharing confidential information about a client with a family member or friend. Talking about confidential information somewhere you can be overheard. Leaving your computer containing confidential information open to others.

In what types of situations would you break confidentiality? ›

When to Break Confidentiality
  • If the client may be an immediate danger to themself or another.
  • If the client is endangering another who cannot protect themself, as in the case of a child, a person with a disability, or elder abuse.
  • When required to obtain payment for services.
  • As required by state or federal laws.

What employee information is considered confidential? ›

Confidential Employee Information

Personal data: Social Security Number, date of birth, marital status, and mailing address. Job application data: resume, background checks, and interview notes. Employment information: employment contract, pay rate, bonuses, and benefits.

What happens when you complain to HR about your manager? ›

What happens after you file a complaint with HR. The exact procedures will vary from employer to employer, but generally speaking, after you file a complaint, HR will investigate the issue, which involves questioning those who are involved and examining your evidence, as well as taking additional steps as necessary.

Can HR talk about you to other employees? ›

However, employers should also maintain strict confidentiality concerning employee status, pay, performance and medical related information to the extent possible. With few exceptions, employers shouldn't engage in discussions about other employees or disclosures concerning employees with their coworkers.

What are the three 3 kinds of data breach? ›

Types of data breaches
  • XSS attack. A cross-site scripting (XSS) attack is a remote code execution (RCE) flaw that may be caused by web applications that employ standard vulnerabilities such as XSS vulnerabilities. ...
  • SQL Injection attack. ...
  • MITM attack. ...
  • Ransomware attacks.
Jul 29, 2022

What are 4 consequences of data breach? ›

Data breaches can affect the brand's reputation and cause the company to lose customers. Breaches can damage and corrupt databases. Data breaches also can have legal and compliance consequences. Data breaches also can significantly impact individuals, causing loss of privacy and, in some cases, identity theft.

Does HR have a duty of confidentiality? ›

In addition to protecting sensitive employee information, HR must maintain confidentiality about management or business information that is not available to nonmanagement employees or outsiders. Such information could include changing business strategies and processes, layoffs or plant closings, and proprietary data.

Can HR tell your boss what you say? ›

Plus, know that HR isn't required to keep what you tell them confidential. You can ask for confidentiality, but if they judge that what you've said needs to be shared in order to address a problem, their job obligates them to do that.

What should I avoid in HR? ›

Here are 10 of the most common HR mistakes, not in any particular order!
  • Not Having an Up-to-Date and Compliant Handbook. ...
  • Lack of Documentation on Terminations. ...
  • Inconsistent and Insufficient Employee Files and Records. ...
  • Lack of Supervisor/Manager Training. ...
  • Poor Hiring Practices. ...
  • Misclassification of Employees.
Mar 7, 2022

How do you handle a breach of confidentiality? ›

You may need the assistance of a contract lawyer if you are a party to a breach of confidentiality claim. Your lawyer can provide you with legal advice and guidance regarding what is necessary to prevail in your claim. They can inform you regarding any changes in confidentiality laws as well as represent you in court.

What are the defenses for breach of confidentiality? ›

Possible defenses include: The information was not confidential by nature; The information was already in the public domain; or. There is a public interest in disclosing the confidential information.

What to do when confidentiality is broken? ›

If you believe that there has been a breach of confidentiality, the first step is usually to fully identify and evidence this. You will then usually want to confront the employee about this, explaining that you are aware of a breach, specifically what the breach is and what the consequences of that breach are.

How do you expose a manipulative coworker? ›

Here are tips for resolving a conflict involving a manipulative coworker:
  1. Show respect by conducting the meeting in a private place.
  2. Address the problem clearly and directly.
  3. Explain how the other person's behavior is affecting your work or wellbeing.
  4. Describe how you would like your interactions to be.
Mar 10, 2023

What is considered invasion of privacy in the workplace? ›

In case your employer publishes any of your information revealed in confidence, it is an invasion of privacy in the workplace. For example, it is likely an encroachment if somebody publicizes information about your health, sexual conduct, or financial situation.

How do you deal with sneaky manipulative coworkers? ›

Here are a few ways to do so:
  1. Try to See Things From Their Perspective. ...
  2. Remain Professional and Try to Find the Good in Them. ...
  3. Don't Let Their Behavior Dictate How You Feel or Act. ...
  4. Act Only in Mutually Beneficial Situations, and Don't be Afraid to Say “No”

Can you get fired for breach of confidentiality? ›

A major penalty for breach of confidentiality is termination of employment. This is especially true if the employee in question signed a confidentiality agreement prior to starting the job.

What is lack of confidentiality in the workplace? ›

A breach of confidentiality in the workplace is an occurrence that happens more often than it's made known to the public. Confidentiality is a very significant workplace issue because failure to secure and protect confidential business information can result in the loss of clients and business, or even worse.

What is the most effective way to protect the confidentiality of the participants? ›

The easiest way to protect confidentiality is to collect (or if the data are already collected then use) anonymous data. Anonymous data are data that are not connected to information that can identify the individual participant.

What are 3 things to keep confidential? ›

Personal data: Social Security Number, date of birth, marital status, and mailing address. Job application data: resume, background checks, and interview notes. Employment information: employment contract, pay rate, bonuses, and benefits. Job performance data: performance reviews, warnings, and disciplinary notes.

How do you protect employee data? ›

Here are 10 best practices for protecting sensitive employee information:
  1. #1: Develop formal policies and procedures. ...
  2. #2: Maintain records securely. ...
  3. #3: Follow recordkeeping laws. ...
  4. #4: Comply with state data privacy laws. ...
  5. #5: Avoid using SSNs when possible. ...
  6. #6: Restrict access. ...
  7. #7: Keep an access log and monitor it.

What protect confidentiality and integrity? ›

Information and data encryption should be used for data at rest to protect confidentiality and integrity.

How do you handle confidentiality in your work answer? ›

Keep all confidential information in a secure place. Do not leave it lying on your desk top or anywhere it can be easily accessed by unauthorized persons. It is best to keep it in a locked drawer or file cabinet. You may be asked to return all confidential information, or destroy it at the option of the owner.

What are two methods that ensure confidentiality? ›

A good example of methods used to ensure confidentiality is requiring an account number or routing number when banking online. Data encryption is another common method of ensuring confidentiality. User IDs and passwords constitute a standard procedure; two-factor authentication (2FA) is becoming the norm.


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