Cyberattacks leave no stone unturned in the 2020s. According to Forbes, organizational data breaches increased 72% between 2021 and 2023. Data breaches aren’t just stolen credit card details and addresses from customers; internal payroll data is a prime target for cyber-attacks given the wealth of personal and organizational information in payroll records.

How do you keep your organization safe from bad actors as they get more sophisticated and convincing? Here’s why payroll data security is important and what you can do to create robust protections for sensitive data in payroll records.

The Importance of Cybersecurity for Payroll

Payroll records contain highly sensitive data that is a goldmine for hackers. Not only do they have employees’ legal names and current addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information, they also contain bank details. Social Security numbers and other identifying numbers, like International Tax Identification Numbers, can be used to steal someone’s entire identity and do everything from taking out loans and credit cards in their name, to signing leases.

Salary information is also in payroll records. While an employee could voluntarily discuss their salary privately, involuntarily revealing salaries to the public can sow distrust in both the employee and the organization.

Protecting payroll information is paramount for both short-term safety and long-term prosperity at both the personal and organizational levels. Breaches can cost millions of dollars to address. If an employee’s bank information or identification number is compromised, it can completely disrupt their lives for several months while they sort it out with the Social Security Administration. They won’t be able to perform very well at work if they are worried about their personal finances, future plans, and the havoc wreaked by a stolen identity.

Payroll Security Best Practices

Cybersecurity for payroll doesn’t have to be an overly complex system. While a cybersecurity professional may be necessary in some situations, there are some basic best practices that even those who are not the most tech-savvy can implement to keep payroll data safe from bad actors. These include:

Use strong authentication methods.

Two-factor authentication can be set up in online payroll accounts for both users and administrators. Email servers and any other portal where sensitive data is at risk should also have two-factor or multi-factor authentication enabled.


Conduct regular security audits.

Semiannual or quarterly security audits with a cybersecurity professional can help your organization address vulnerabilities before they become serious problems. New cybersecurity threats are constantly cropping up and evolving. Routine security audits can keep the organization on top of these threats before they become breaches.


Train employees on phishing, deepfakes, and other cybersecurity threats.

Even tech-savvy employees can fall for deepfakes, which are becoming more convincing. All it takes is a snippet of a phone call with a manager to get a voice sample that sounds genuine, convincing that employee to hand over sensitive information and putting themselves and the entire organization at risk. Employee training on the latest cybersecurity threats can help them stay aware of these threats and recognize them when they happen.


Secure data storage solutions.

Secure cloud solutions for payroll data with the ideal functionalities can keep employee information safe without sacrificing convenience.


Payroll services like Affiliated HR & Payroll are in the business of protecting your highly sensitive payroll data. Payroll data security is a cornerstone of our business, and our cloud-based systems offer built-in security features.

Legacy payroll systems are not only clunky to operate, but they also have several vulnerabilities compared to modern systems. Payroll technology plays a major role in enhancing data security, and payroll cybersecurity doesn’t have to be overly complex.

Proactive vs. Reactive: Your HR Data Security Strategy

Organizations need to have a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one that only responds to threats after they become imminent. Payroll security requires ongoing vigilance to ever-evolving cyber threats rather than damage control once a breach occurs.

A holistic and proactive approach to payroll data security ensures that threats are mitigated before they appear on the radar. Strong authentication, employee awareness of the latest cyber threats, secure data storage, and routine security audits can keep your organization on the up and up. Affiliated HR & Payroll’s payroll security experts are here to ensure your information stays safe.

Protect your business from cyber threats with secure payroll solutions from Affiliated HR & Payroll. Contact us today for a consultation.

Stephanie Baxmann

Stephanie Baxmann

Client Service Representative at Affiliated HR & Payroll Services