Almost overnight, Covid-19 forced companies worldwide to adopt hybrid and remote working arrangements. It was the world's biggest work from home experiment, and for the most part, it worked.
Although Covid-19 sped up an inevitable move to increased working from home, its drastic implementation left businesses grappling with several issues - including safely and effectively performing highly sensitive human resources and payroll tasks from suburban dining room tables.
A recent white paper by Sage found that half of small businesses and as many as 64% of medium-sized companies invested in human resources and payroll technology in the past year. But with cybercrime on the rise, and increased awareness of data security owing to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), many are still unsure how best to securely perform tasks crucial to the business with a growing employee count now working remotely.
Here are ten ways small and medium-sized businesses are working to implement improved cyber and data security in the constantly evolving world of hybrid working environments.
1. Restrict access to the payroll system
Humans are almost always the weakest link in online security measures, so limiting access to the payroll system to select trained personnel is a must. 63% of SMEs surveyed say that only designated personnel in their organisation can view information relevant to payroll tasks to mitigate this risk.
2. Regularly update software
Cybercriminals make it their business to find and exploit flaws in software, and negating these attacks is sometimes as simple as using security measures and updating software. 53% of HR and payroll professionals say they perform these essential tasks regularly.
3. Request authorisation before making payments
Companies can add a layer of security to important tasks by having employees request authorisation before making payments. Of the companies surveyed, 52% require employees to request authorisation before making any payments to limit the chance of mistaken or fraudulent transactions.
4. Introduce security policies
Airtight security policies are non-negotiable when it comes to data and payroll. Of the companies surveyed, 52% say they have introduced additional security policies, such as turning to cloud-based payroll software, to ensure the integrity of their data. Industry-leading cloud-based payroll software takes care of everything from password protection to multi-factor authentication.
5. Increase document security
Since the advent of lockable filing cabinets, document integrity has been central to most businesses' document security. Digitising documents exposes them to hacks and other cybercrimes, but it's now easier - and more critical - than ever to secure them automatically using advanced software. 53% of businesses said they use cloud-based HR systems to do so.
6. Introduce encryption protocols
Encryption protocols should be of the utmost concern to small and medium businesses. With tight protocols in place, documents will be inaccessible should they fall into the wrong hands. 47% of HR and payroll professionals surveyed say they are implementing data encryption as another layer of security to sensitive documents.
7. Secure workstations, servers, and storage space
With employees increasingly working remotely, the number of devices - and potential weak points - has increased. Operating from the cloud can negate the security risks associated with increased remote working, and 47% of those surveyed say they now secure workstations, servers, and storage space to protect them from exposure or data loss.
8. Implement confidentiality clauses
Employees working from home can lead to some confidentiality concerns, and 43% of HR and payroll professionals say they have implemented confidentiality clauses to ensure data protection. Using cloud-based software to perform crucial tasks can also improve confidentiality with features like system logs and data encryption.
9. Implement data retention policies
POPIA stipulates that companies must have data retention policies to ensure the security of personal information. Yet, just 36% of professionals in HR and payroll are implementing procedures that deal with this. These policies must consider how long to keep personal data and dispose of it correctly - both of which are tasks that a cloud-based HR software can handle automatically while also leaving an audit trail.
10. Segregate duties within the payroll team
To reduce the burden on individual employees, 30% of SMEs segregate payroll and HR duties. This practice isolates tasks to specific individuals and minimises errors a single employee may overlook.
How do cloud-based solutions like Sage bridge the security blind spot?
Keeping up-to-date on the latest security issues was complex even before the mass exodus of employees from offices. Fortunately, technology has kept pace with the changes.
Using cloud-based software isn't just about automating many complex tasks - it's also highly beneficial in terms of data security - regardless of an employee's location. Software-as-service providers like Sage Business Cloud Payroll Professional constantly monitor and protect their infrastructure to ensure users have up-to-date and compliant security measures. And built-in security measures like encryption, access restrictions, and other data protection processes prohibit unauthorised people and criminals from accessing confidential data and make it easier to enforce policies.
To find out more about Sage Business Cloud Payroll Professional, click here.
Sage is the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility and efficiency to manage finances, operations and people.
This post was sponsored by Sage and produced by BrandStudio24.