As the economy continues down the road of recession, the payroll industry continues to climb into headlines in the news. Payroll companies often work for a large amount of smaller companies offering payroll processing services that give them an inside view of how the economic landscape is forming.
By working for these small companies, they gain information such as hiring habits, lay offs, firings, as well as valuable data on individual employees that is used to print checks for them. So with all this information, small business payroll services can tell how the economy is doing, and releases statistics to news outlets to report. For example, if a payroll company is noticing many lay offs within the companies they work for, they can report that lay offs have been rising, which obviously is a bad sign in an economy.
However, with this knowledge also comes a great deal of security issues. It's not too hard to imagine that hackers take aim at payroll companies, especially now during these difficult times, as they distribute checks and have vast amounts of extremely valuable data. Unfortunately, the payroll companies don't always beat out the hackers as one story tells.
Often what some hackers will do is create false employees and have payments be sent to them through the payroll company, however in this case a number of employees of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had their information changed in the payroll databank. According to the story, someone was able to hack into an employee of Regeneron's desktop computer and access their account for their payroll service company, Ceridian. After the account was accessed, some employees who had direct deposit enabled, had their bank account information altered so that their paychecks ended up going to an account set up by the hacker. Fortunately the plot was foiled before any damage could be done, but it is scary to think about the possibilities of what could have happened.
This story gives yet another reason why people should be careful with sensitive information. If you are required to give out data in order for transactions to be completed, such as working with a payroll company, always take a bit of time to do some research and see that business' history with privacy and security. Otherwise you may not be as lucky as the Regeneron employees.