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All You Need to Know About Making Your Payroll Software Secure and Safe

August 10, 2022
By Ganesh Ram
All You Need to Know About Making Your Payroll Software Secure and Safe

In this digital world, organizations have a huge amount of data that they can leverage to gain a competitive edge. Some of this data is personal and sensitive. In other words, it can help identify a person or might contain information about individual finances.   

Your payroll records also fall into this personal and sensitive information category. Your payroll software solutions have confidential data such as compensation numbers and bonus figures, apart from Personal Identifiable Information (PII), addresses and bank account numbers of your employees. 

Ensuring data privacy and protection of such confidential information is not just a responsibility but a legal liability too. For companies in Southeast Asia, it is mandatory to follow stringent data protection laws in the region. 

In this context, data breaches of payroll records are not unheard of. Last year a ransomware attack on an HR technology company in the UK affected the attendance, scheduling and payroll of almost 2000 employees.  

Apart from external attacks, there is also a risk of internal data breaches. Any such leaks in your payroll software can leak your internal policies and regulations. For instance, imagine what would happen if your employees accidentally got to know the salary details of their peers. That would undoubtedly create mayhem in your organization.  

With so much at stake, it becomes vital to ensure payroll software security to keep your data secure and uncompromised.  

This means restricting any illegal or unauthorized access to your data and negating any alteration to your information. In simple terms, no one should be able to view, copy or change it.  

Here are other actions that can help you fortify your payroll system and protect it from any unforeseen vulnerabilities. 

1. Regular Security Patches

The cyber-world is continuously evolving, and, just like humans, the software too is not perfect. They are prone to cyber-attacks from hackers. Apart from this, there are holes or vulnerabilities that the developers are always trying to patch. 

When you get notifications for payroll software updates, your instinct is to ignore them or delay the update. However, it is pushed by the software developer to remediate these security gaps that the earlier version did not.  

In 2017, a data breach at Equifax in the US exposed records of 146 million Americans. This was due to the employees failing to follow security warnings and implement security patches. 

Moreover, when your employees ignore such patch updates of the payroll software, it also makes future patches incompatible.  

Training your team to regularly update the software and operating systems is key to avoiding this. Most individuals delay it as the updates can take a long time and disturb their work routines. They can avoid it by installing updates before breaking for lunch or stepping out for a meeting.   

2. Create a Zero-trust Architecture 

It is understandable if you trust your employees, but it is advisable not to leave anything to chance. The zero-trust architecture is based on the principle of “never trust, always verify“. It restricts access by implementing granular security controls.  

Earlier, everything within the realm of the digital world was based on the assumption that everything within an organization is implicitly trusted. However, hybrid work and third-party access can threaten your confidential information, including the data in your payroll software. 

Zero-trust architecture is an approach that reduces security threats while reducing the complexity of your security systems and operational overhead.  

To implement this, you will need to know the different sections of users and understand why they are using the payroll system 

For instance, you will have an internal compensation team that will need to look at the salary structures or perhaps even look at internal employee salaries for negotiation. You will also have a payroll team that will be involved in processing the payouts. This team can be either internal or external. Lastly, the employees will use the system to access their pay slips.  

The zero-trust architecture ensures that all these user segments can access only the necessary information. It uses strong user identity authentication to allow for different access modes to your payroll software. These authentication methods confirm user identity reliably and safely by using information such as passwords, codes, and recovery questions.  

With the rise in ransomware attacks, as evidenced by a 168% year-on-year rise in May 2021, the need for zero-trust architecture has become even more relevant. 

3. Mandatory Payroll Audits 

An audit is a term that gets most individuals sweating buckets. However, they serve a significant purpose. Auditors figure out the loopholes in your system and indicate if you need to change your processes. 

A payroll audit is no different. In fact, it is all the more essential, considering your payroll systems deal with crucial information and are prone to fraud and data theft. 

It is essential that you conduct both external and internal audits. The internal audit will find out if there are any company policy or regulations issues. Moreover, it can uncover the probability of human errors that may lead to fraud. You must call a person from another department, such as the product team or the information security team, for proper auditing. 

An external audit is when an independent team of individuals visits and checks your payroll system. The idea is to ensure that your payroll satisfies all the government regulations regarding employment laws. Moreover, they will also test the security of your payroll system 

These teams are generally comprised of experts who can help you fortify your systems and make them more robust. They are aware of the serious security risks and will test your system against them.  

So, the next time you receive an email about an audit, take it up as a challenge and prepare your systems to pass it successfully. 

4. Single Sign-on User Authentication 

Most organizations permit employees to use their personal mobile phones to allow easy access to company systems. This increases the risk to your network and systems. 

While data encryption helps ensure your data security, it is not enough. You also need a mechanism to authenticate the users accessing these applications.  

Single Sign-on Authentication (SSO authentication) allows the users to access websites and applications with one set of credentials. It saves them the trouble of creating and remembering multiple credentials for different systems. Moreover, it makes your applications seamless. 

In the case of your payroll system, your employees can access payroll using the same credential they use to log into the company’s system. 

Here are the other benefits that you get by using SSO authentication. 

  • The organization controls who are accessing the payroll system thereby eliminating any chances of fraud. 
  • You can limit the use of your systems to only a few devices. For instance, you can allow the employees to access payroll only from the company computer and their registered mobile device. 
  • Finally, it is easy to revoke an employee’s access to all the systems when they exit the organization. 

5. Mobile Data Management (MDM) Layer

A report from Security Boulevard suggests that 67% of employees use their personal devices for work. 

If your employees are accessing the company systems on their mobiles and other devices, there is an increased security risk of cyberattacks and unintentional data leaks. 

You can counter this risk with an additional mobile data management layer. It ensures the security of personal devices connected to your system. For instance, the MDM layer in your payroll software can allow you to monitor user activities on their mobile phones.  

The most significant advantage is that you get device-specific and platform-specific functions like access management, geolocation monitoring, and data encryption to ensure robust data security. 



Cybersecurity has become such a menace that ASEAN member states created a Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC) to formulate a regional strategy on cybersecurity and resilience protection.  

In this scenario, it is necessary to fortify your payroll systems against cyberattacks and data leaks. By putting in tight security measures, you can maintain the security and sanctity of your data. 

If you have read this far, do check out the PeopleStrong payroll system here. With dedicated payroll specialists across Southeast Asian countries, we ensure 100% compliance to local laws and provide enterprise-grade security for your organization. 

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