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It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s HR in the cloud! If you want to be a small business superhero, using cloud-based HR software can supercharge your efficiency. But, in an ever-changing “tech” world filled with security concerns, you need to make sure your data is protected.
Superheroes must wear the right armor to fend off foes, and Web-based HR software is no exception. It takes multiple layers of sophisticated security measures to fight cyber dangers and keep your information secure.
What, exactly, are those cloud security measures? Rather than slog through lots of painstaking research, check out this overview of important security features. It might not get your pulse racing, but it will give you a better handle on what matters with online HR software. Armed with this information, you’ll be well on your way to selecting a fast, powerful and safe HR software solution.
Before we dive into online security, let DeLoitte University Press define what it means when we say data is stored in “the cloud.” It’s a buzzword that is often misunderstood. First, it doesn’t mean your information is floating out in the air somewhere. It just means the data you enter and manage on a website (the cloud-based HR Software) is stored on a server that allows you to access it quickly and easily from any Internet-based device — anywhere, any time. That’s the cloud. But what’s important to understand is that your information is stored somewhere — and you want that somewhere to be safe!
An ironclad password is one of the first lines of defense with information privacy. Often times, passwords are too simple, making it easy for hackers to tap into accounts and steal personal information. A weak password is like an unlocked door — easy to open with very little effort. The key to avoiding problems is making sure passwords are complex, unpredictable and impossible to guess.
One way to test a software program’s security is to create a mock account with a very simple password and see if the program accepts it. A program that doesn’t prompt you to create a more sophisticated password may be too simplistic to trust. Strong passwords typically require eight characters containing at least one number, one letter and one special character such as “!”,“@”, “#”, or “%.”
Cloud storage is only as good as the backup system used to maintain it. When choosing a provider that will store your information on a server, make sure the business offers multiple backups at multiple geographic locations. That way if one storage system fails, the data is safe somewhere else. Basically, the goal of data backup is to ensure you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.
You can also create your own backup system with a data export feature, something a good software provider should offer for added peace of mind. This allows you to export your data and store it as you wish. One additional consideration: What happens if the company that’s storing your information goes out of business? Find out the procedure for retrieving your data in case a company closes its doors.
Secure data storage is one thing; keeping it safe while it’s traveling from your computer to the server is quite another. This brings us to data encryption, a process that alters your information to a codified jumble of letters and numbers.
With encryption, online text can only be viewed in its original form if it’s “unlocked” with a special cyber code. That way, it’s unreadable by anyone who comes across it and doesn’t have the unscrambling code.
Your data is then converted back to a readable format when you access it for your own use.
When it comes to reliability, the individual online service is as important as the overall system providing it. Web apps must be carefully designed to eliminate potential vulnerabilities upfront, and then regularly audited and tested for ongoing security. Also, a reliable operating system will be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and periodically “hardened” to remove any risks in functionality.
Although vital with any Web app, these safeguards are especially important when dealing with sensitive employee information. HR compliance is paramount for employers, and the stakes are that much higher if data is compromised.
Access is everything and when you’re talking about business data security, less is more. The more users with access to sensitive information, the higher the risk. To safeguard customer information, companies must control and keep track of who can handle company data. And appropriate measures must be taken if those individuals leave the business.
When using Web-based applications, you need to be aware of how much data can be stored and for how long. Find out how many years’ worth of data is stored, and make sure you understand the procedure for getting it back. Also, is it being stored in compliance with federal or state recordkeeping requirements?
Choosing an online partner to support your business and HR responsibilities is a big decision. It’s in your best interest to do some digging and double-checking. You want to be certain the provider uses the latest, most sophisticated security measures to protect your business information.
By carefully researching your options and asking a customer service rep the right questions, you can better determine if a cloud-based software provider deserves your business and can safely protect your confidential information.
For forward-thinking small businesses, online HR software is new and exciting territory. Cloud-based software brings speed and efficiency to formerly cumbersome and time-consuming processes. It also offers a superior level of cloud security when you’re working with a responsible, reputable provider.
Still not certain if online HR software is in your future? Check out this HR Software Quiz for help making up your mind.