Gary Webb, Marketing and Communications Director at FMP Global, a leading global provider of payroll and HR services to SME organisations, explains why payroll security is critical
Cybersecurity is likely to remain a vital concern for anyone who uses the internet for the foreseeable future. The sad fact is, as cybersecurity becomes more sophisticated, so do hackers, and so it’s never been more important to stay on top of the game. One of the most sensitive areas when it comes to cybersecurity for companies is payroll. Payroll software contains your employees’ most personal details; names, addresses, National Insurance numbers, and of course – bank details. Knowing this, it’s crucial for all businesses to ensure their payroll processes are as protected as they can be.
Why payroll software gets targeted
Payroll software contains sensitive information which is attractive to cybercriminals for a number of reasons. Because of this, it gets preyed upon considerably. These are just a handful of ways that hackers can use the details stored in payroll software;
- Financial gain – quite simply, access to bank details can enable cybercriminals to steal or spend your money.
- Identity theft – it’s possible for hackers to use your personal details to carry out fraudulent activity in your name, such as applying for loans or accessing your existing assets.
- Indirect attacks in the future – with contact details such as emails and phone numbers, cybercriminals will be able to reach out to people time and time again in the future with other scams.
How to properly secure your payroll to prevent data breaches
The protection of payroll data is the responsibility of those who are processing it. This is one of the many reasons why some businesses opt to outsource their payroll; to divert the obligation to an external company. Either way, there are a number of procedures that can be put into place to help guarantee the protection of payroll data;
- A solid human firewall – your staff can be one of your biggest weapons against cybersecurity attacks. Make sure everyone is properly trained and continuously on the lookout for unusual emails or phone calls; create aculture of questioning.
- Use strong passwords – implement a password policy that dictates their complexity and demands that they are regularly changed. Still today the most common passwords are things like ‘123456’, ‘abc123’, and even ‘password’.
- Limit access to payroll data – to help keep information secure, make sure it is password protected and only accessible to those who really need to see it. You should also keep a list of those who have, or have had, access.
- Apply software updates as soon as possible – when pop-ups appear requesting that you update software, it’s usually because the software providers have found ways to improve/fixan existing problem. These problems frequently relate to security holes.
- Use trusted payroll software. The UK government provides a list of approved payroll software. Using a provider from this list, such as FMP Global, gives you that extra peace of mind that your payroll data is in good hands.
What checks are needed in-house and/or externally?
Whether your payroll is outsourced or carried out internally, you need to ensure the system used is thoroughly and repeatedly checked. The best way to do this is to conduct regular audits to make sure that any cybersecurity measures you have put into place are being sustained. An audit could include things like;
- Asking your staff if they have seen any anomalies or experienced software problems
- Spot checks to make sure those who have access to payroll information are following password policies
- Asking your IT department to examine the software to identify any potential improvements regarding security (or otherwise)
If you have opted to outsource your payroll to a third party company, you might be concerned about just how secure their systems are. Avoid problems by doing your homework before entering into a contract with a payroll company. Check their reviews online, or ask other business owners for recommendations.
Why you need to be aware of your payroll security
If your in-house or external payroll systems are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, you run the risk of a truly devastating outcome. In addition to the possibility of your employees encountering identity or financial theft, the stability and trustworthiness of your company will come into question. Knowledge of such an attack is likely to dissuade future employees from joiningyou, andcould also inhibit business dealings going forward.