How to make sure your payroll is safe

There are lots of ways in which payroll can be compromised by hackers, including the recent Equifax breach that affected over 143 million customers’ data

How to make sure your payroll is safe

There are lots of ways in which payroll can be compromised by hackers, including the recent Equifax breach that affected over 143 million customers’ data. That number was significantly higher than it would have been if they had used more secure methods to protect customer information—and it’s just one of many examples of how businesses can lose money by taking security for granted. It’s important to realize there are proactive steps you can take to make sure your payroll remains secure, so you can sleep easy at night knowing you haven’t lost any money.

Importance of payroll confidentiality

If a company’s payroll is public information, it can be hacked and sensitive employee information exposed. That would include a lot of confidential data including an employee’s name, Social Security number, salary and possibly even bank account information. Hackers could use that kind of information for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes. But even if a company doesn’t have any private payroll info on file, a hacker could gain access to employees’ W-2 forms, which detail wages earned during a calendar year. In addition to salary details they may contain personal identifying data such as an individual's address and birth date. Accessing that kind of data can help with identity theft in years ahead when someone needs to file taxes under another person's name.

Limited access to payroll data

It’s easy to maintain limited access in an office setting. When you need sensitive documents, simply ask for them and be grateful when you get them. But what about remote data? How do you know someone isn’t snooping through your account or copying information out of it? You could keep everything private by encrypting it all, but that would require special software and would slow down every action taken on that data. What if there was a better way?

Create strong passwords

Hackers are getting smarter every day. If you're not, they will. To stay ahead of trouble, be deliberate about creating strong passwords that are random and don't include personal information. Just remember not to use one password across different websites or accounts, even if they’re all related to your business. Keep them in a secure place so you only have access to them if there’s an emergency.

Always Logg off after finishing

Sometimes people forget they are logged into their bank accounts, social media accounts or other financial portals. When you leave your computer on at night, hackers can break in while you’re sleeping and perform illegal transactions. Always be mindful of what you’re logged into while leaving it unattended for an extended period of time. Logging off before leaving will ensure your information stays safe.

Hard copies should be locked up

There’s a reason why your mother told you not to leave a paper checkbook lying around. If it’s stolen, you might end up paying for that oversight with real money. You can use an ATM-style envelope that seals closed or a bank vault box, both of which are small enough for home or business use. Also think about safeguarding checks by keeping them in individual envelopes until you actually need them. That way, if they get stolen, they won’t be any good to anyone but yourself.

Switch to payroll software to make process secure

For most people, a large amount of their paycheck goes towards taxes. This makes handling all those forms difficult and time-consuming. If you're still using checkbook software for your payroll, you can easily run into errors that cause penalties down the road. In order to keep everything organized and avoid penalties from paying taxes late, it's wise to use a payroll software that can handle all of these details for you without making mistakes. Most companies offer discounts on their products if you pay a flat fee instead of using a credit card or account with them. Some even offer free versions with limited features as well as paid versions with full functionality.

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