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You Can’t Afford to Skip These PII Security Measures 💻🔒

You Can’t Afford to Skip These PII Security Measures 💻🔒 150 150 Alicia East

In an age where data is king, safeguarding personally identifiable information (PII) is paramount. Companies entrusted with their employees’ sensitive data must implement secure storage solutions both to be found compliant and also to protect workers’ privacy.

Protect Your Business With These PII Security Measures


  • Utilize cloud storage services with robust encryption protocols to safeguard PII during transit and at rest.
  • Opt for providers with multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security for access.


  • Invest in servers with advanced security features to retain control over PII.
  • Implement strict access controls, ensuring that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data.


  • Apply data masking techniques to replace sensitive PII with realistic but fictional data, minimizing the risk of exposure during testing or analytics.


  • Choose to engage with partners that use end-to-end encryption for communication and file sharing.
  • Ensure that communication tools comply with industry regulations and prioritize user privacy.


  • Regularly back up PII data to secure, offsite locations, minimizing the impact of potential data breaches or disasters.
  • Employ encryption for backups and conduct periodic recovery drills to ensure data retrieval readiness.


  • Implement robust audit trails and monitoring tools to track access to PII data.
  • Set up alerts for suspicious activities and conduct regular audits to identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities.
  • Have third parties conduct penetration tests to identify and correct  weaknesses.


  • Stay abreast of data protection regulations applicable to your industry and region.
  • Regularly update storage systems to comply with evolving legal requirements, avoiding potential legal consequences.


  • Train employees on data security best practices, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding PII.
  • Foster a culture of awareness, making security a shared responsibility across all levels of the organization.


  • Engage partners (like PayReel, 👋) that take security as seriously as you do and who follow the best practices for themselves.

The Bottom Line

By integrating these secure storage solutions into your company’s data management strategy, you not only fortify defenses against potential threats, but also demonstrate a commitment to the privacy and trust of your employees. Remember, safeguarding PII is not just a legal obligation; it’s a cornerstone of ethical business practices in the digital age. 🔒✨

Safeguarding Your Business: Understanding Vulnerabilities and Cybersecurity Measures

Safeguarding Your Business: Understanding Vulnerabilities and Cybersecurity Measures 2560 1442 Alicia East

As every aspect of our lives continue to be more and more connected digitally, our vulnerability to cyberattacks increases. Companies of all sizes rely heavily on technology to operate effectively. Technology evolves quickly and cybercriminals are evolving right behind. This makes it imperative for businesses to understand their vulnerabilities and implement robust cybersecurity measures. Here, we’ll address what makes a business vulnerable to cyberattacks and how to protect businesses from such threats.

What Makes Businesses Susceptible to Cybersecurity Attacks?

  1. Inadequate Training: The most common door into any organization is human error. Insufficient cybersecurity awareness and training can result in employees falling for phishing scams, downloading malware, or inadvertently exposing sensitive information.
  2. Outdated Software and Systems: Failing to keep software, operating systems, and security solutions up to date is a common mistake as well. Cybercriminals often target known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to a system. Some organizations know their software is vulnerable, but choose to take the risk because the cost of fixing can be extremely expensive. This is quite a gamble and encourages cybercriminals to exploit the weaknesses.
  3. Weak or Repeated Passwords: We know this one, right? It’s not common for people to use easily guessable passwords anymore, but we have to mention it anyway. Using simple passwords and/or reusing them across multiple accounts is like leaving your front door unlocked.
  4. Lack of Access Controls: Failing to implement proper access controls can result in unauthorized users gaining access to sensitive data or systems. This often happens due to poor password management or insufficient authentication methods.
  5. Inadequate Backup and Recovery: Without regular data backups and a solid recovery plan, businesses are vulnerable to data loss from cyberattacks, ransomware, or hardware failures.

Strategies to Protect Your Business

  1. Employee Training: Invest in cybersecurity training and awareness programs. Teach employees to recognize phishing attempts, use strong passwords, and follow best practices for online security. Encourage teams to share screenshots of the attempts that cross their paths.
  2. Implement Regular Updates and Patch Management: Implement a strict policy for keeping all software and systems up to date. Regularly apply security patches to eliminate known vulnerabilities. This isn’t popular, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage a complete overhaul of vulnerable systems.
  3. Password Policies: Enforce strong password policies that require complex, unique passwords and regular password changes and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for added security.
  4. Access Controls: Limit access to sensitive information based on roles and responsibilities. Implement strict access controls to ensure that only authorized individuals can access critical systems and data.
  5. Backup and Disaster Recovery: Regularly back up your data and test your disaster recovery plan. This ensures that, in the event of a cyberattack, you can quickly restore operations and minimize data loss.
  6. Firewalls and Antivirus Software: Deploy robust firewall solutions and up-to-date antivirus software to detect and prevent malware attacks.
  7. Make a Response Plan: Develop a well-defined response plan that outlines the steps to take in case of a cyberattack. This includes communication protocols, legal requirements, and responsibilities of key personnel.
  8. Conduct Regular Third-Party Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses proactively. Consider partnering with cybersecurity experts or Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) to enhance your security posture. They can offer real-time threat monitoring and incident response.

The Bottom Line

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and adaptation. Protecting your business from cyberattacks is a continuous commitment. It’s worthwhile to safeguard your digital assets and in so doing, earn the trust of your customers and clients. By addressing vulnerabilities and implementing robust cybersecurity measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber threats and ensure the longevity of your business.

Scammers Are More Subtle Than Ever, so You Have to Be More Savvy Than Ever

Scammers Are More Subtle Than Ever, so You Have to Be More Savvy Than Ever 2560 1829 Alicia East

At this point, we all know the Nigerian prince emails are bogus, but scammers are getting more sophisticated. That means you need to get more sophisticated, too. Some of my friends’ parents are buying a house right now. It’s right across from their daughter’s family (read: grandkids). These salt of the earth people have worked toward this goal for years and are investing their entire life’s savings into this home. Have you figured out where this is going? They got an email that looked legitimate about transferring $100,000 for the home purchase and they nearly fell for it. I don’t have to tell you how shaken they were by the narrow miss, but not everyone is so lucky. Your level of diligence has to exceed the scammers sneaky ways or you’re going to be vulnerable, too.

The IRS issued warnings around tax time and if you’re like me, you’re getting emails from your banking institutions, and pop-ups when you check your credit card balance. Bad actors have endless points of entry. They have text, social media, phone calls, emails, and more. It’s time to shut your web windows and lock your digital doors.

5 Things You Can do to Protect Yourself From Scammers

Limit Opportunity

Block and filter as much of the junk as you can. Wireless carriers have some built-in features and you can find subscription-based services for a little extra protection. Still, some bogus links and callers will get through your filters and there’s no substitute for your diligence, so read on.

Click With Caution

Go directly to the source. We know we need to check domains and email addresses, but scammers are getting smarter about that. It’s not enough to look for the right words in the domain. Do you see the difference between and WellsFɑ A quick glance will breeze right on by that Cyrillic A in the second example.

Before you click on anything you weren’t expecting or something that is even the tiniest bit fishy, you can go straight to the company’s website, log in, and see if you have a message that confirms the veracity of the communication. If not, it’s probably a scam. You can always call their verified phone numbers as well.

Notice the “per your request” language in the one below. Did you actually request it? If not, be very suspicious. This is an especially alluring topic because they’re talking about the recipient’s paycheck! They’re banking on it being important enough to you that you’ll click. Instead, you can reach out to your payroll representative and ask if they did indeed send it. It’s a simple and worthwhile extra step.

Still, it’s not just the alarming stuff that should give you pause. This one is a casual, lighthearted request: Just vote for your favorite snacks! I hate to say that I’d probably be more drawn in by this one than the payroll one. It looks so benign! And who doesn’t love snacks?!

Be Suspicious When Something is Overly Alarming or Appealing

Whenever you receive a notice about an urgent problem or, on the other end of the spectrum, a big reward that you need to act on right now, be very suspicious. This is what happened with the real estate transaction. They said the deal was in danger if they didn’t send their down payment. You know how much paperwork goes into buying a home? It’s easy to get a little sloppy when you’re handling that many details.

Scammers come with a false sense of urgency–like you’re gonna get thrown in jail or lose access to your account if you don’t deal with the supposed problem right now. Slow down. Talk to someone. Don’t transfer money or hand over information until you’ve at least run it by a friend or an objective party. If you’re buying a house, call your agent before you transfer money. Ask them what to expect from the process and be wary of anything outside of those expectations.

Freeze ‘Em

This isn’t convenient, but you can freeze your credit. It’s similar to two-factor authentication in a way. You’ll get a PIN number to unfreeze your credit whenever you need to apply for a loan or open a new card. It’s one of the most surefire ways to stave off fraudulent credit requests. It doesn’t prevent you from transferring money to a fraudulent party though, so you’re still on the hook for making sound, slow, and steady decisions.

If You See Something, Say Something

If you think you’ve been scammed or are the victim of an attempt, tell the FTC at You might help someone else or be a part of bringing accountability to a bad actor.

The Bottom Line

When a scammer comes in with alarming news or false urgency, take a deep breath and sloooooooow down a minute before clicking or transferring money. Take extra care clicking on any links in emails or texts. Limit incoming calls and texts where you can. Chances are that you, like I, know some smart people who’ve fallen (or almost fallen) for these increasingly subtle and sophisticated tactics.

Cybersecurity: Five Digital Hygiene Practices That Protect Your Customers

Cybersecurity: Five Digital Hygiene Practices That Protect Your Customers 2560 1707 Alicia East

If you’re a production company with expensive gear, you lock it up well and insure it. You keep your wallet or purse close to you while you’re in public. Unlike tangible items though, we can’t keep our identity, data, and personally identifiable information (PII) in our sight or locked up with a key. Cybersecurity requires a different approach. Businesses have extra responsibility because they have access to their workers’ personally identifiable information. Every time you engage an employee or a temporary worker, some level of personally identifiable information changes hands. Just think about how many social security numbers pass through your system. If those stay on your hard drives, you are putting your customers’ information at risk! This is one reason, among many, that it’s so important to have a high level of data security on a company level and to train staff in digital hygiene practices.

Current Threats

It seems every week, a major company, city, or hospital experiences an alarming security breach. Each error compromises something, whether it’s privacy (hacked laptop/phone cameras or Zoom calls, for example), data, or PII. Credit monitoring companies, phones, hospitals, and entire cities have been compromised or even taken hostage. The government has identified the cyberworld as its own domain (after land, air, water, and space). As such, it requires businesses and individuals to have a strategy and implement measures to keep countries, businesses, and people safe.

Businesses and consumers increasingly rely on apps and software to get their everyday work done. Customers, employees, and sometimes patients trust companies with their information. This comes with a responsibility to handle that information well.

So What’s a Company to do?

It’s kind of scary, sure, but there are solutions. While some require third-party software, many of them are basic.

  1. Password Management: There are tools that offer super secure ways to make sure your company passwords are accessible only to whom you want them to be. If you’ve ever tried to access a company account after the person who managed it is no longer with the company, you see the value here. Aside from the convenience, it’s a way to keep information super secure.
  2. Make Your Policies And Procedures Airtight: Prevention is always ideal. Train employees on good security etiquette. For most organizations, human error is by far the most likely source of mistakes that lead to breaches.
  3. Check Your Insurance Coverage: Should you experience a breach, having solid insurance coverage in place can make it a lot less painful by covering the financial loss. Talk to your insurance provider about your current coverage and where there might be gaps. 
  4. Conduct Penetration Tests: Have third parties perform monthly security checks and an annual penetration test to ensure that anyone that tries to come after you will have a tough go of it. 
  5. Encrypt Customer Information: Encrypt all information at multiple levels. Encryption scrambles data so that it’s unreadable without the encryption key. 


Any investment in your security is a wise investment indeed.

What do Supply Chain Shortages, $1.2 Billion, and Compromised Healthcare Have in Common?

What do Supply Chain Shortages, $1.2 Billion, and Compromised Healthcare Have in Common? 2560 2048 Alicia East

To quote the Fiddler on the Roof: “That I can tell you in one word.”


Ransomware is an ever-growing global threat where the attackers hide behind computer screens. It’s a growing concern for governments, industries, and individual private citizens because it can cause serious disruptions in everything from the food supply to healthcare. Short-term inconveniences like a cream cheese shortage and waiting in long lines for gas are just the beginning. It can be downright dangerous when people aren’t able to heat their homes or when healthcare quality is compromised. Here’s a fact it’s time to face: Ransomware is nothing short of a national security threat.

And as long as it’s profitable to the tune of billions of dollars, it’s not going anywhere.

How Did We Get Here?

According to New York Times reporting, the Facebook model of “move fast and break things” is catching up with companies that built systems quickly to beat competitors to the market. It’s no wonder that cutting corners has landed us in worse shape in the long run. Businesses are facing painful consequences like enormous ransom fees, loss of business operations, compromised data and damaged reputations.

We are facing a very rude awakening, but this is by no means a new problem. Attackers have been honing their skills and wreaking havoc quietly for years. If you’re old enough to have had one of the first email accounts back in the days of dial-up, you may remember getting an email asking for a few hundred dollars in exchange for unlocking your device. It’s now grown into an issue that costs billions of dollars and includes national security risks. What’s new about it is that people are feeling the effects personally.

Who is Behind The Attacks?

According to published sources, over half of the attacks have one thing in common: They originate in Russia. These attackers write code specifically designed to bypass Russian businesses and Putin will not prosecute cybercriminals or extradite them upon U.S. request. Experts believe that Russian attackers operate under two unspoken rules:

  1. Don’t attack Russian businesses.
  2. Be ready to do favors for the Russian government upon request.

What if Companies Don’t Pay?

In 2019, cybercriminals demanded $75,000 after an attack on the city of Baltimore. Baltimore decided not to pay it and ended up paying $18 million to rebuild the systems instead. The theory is that if all companies refuse to pay, hackers lose their leverage and incentive.

The bigger the impact, the more leverage the attackers have. When you see hospitals turning away ambulances at the door, it becomes really hard to ignore or take the time to rebuild systems altogether. It’s legal to pay the attackers off and many companies find it much more cost-effective to do so.

Hackers, then, are rewarded for their efforts and the cycle continues. The result? Companies spend millions in ransom to get their compromised systems running again. Individuals have their personal information compromised regularly and governments are grappling with an issue they’re now ranking as dangerous to national security as terrorism.

Okay, Well What Can we do About it?

On an individual level, it really is as unglamorous as brushing up on cyber hygiene. The Daily podcast cites the saying that, “security is only as good as your weakest link” and it usually ends up that the weakest links are employees and individuals. The Colonial Pipeline attack was traced back to a single employee with a compromised inactive account.

Josh Hornung at Hornung Technology Services, which specializes in IT Support and Cyber Security services said, “A good unique password for each site is step one. Enabling two-factor or multi-factor authentication everywhere you can is step two. Too many people use the same password across many accounts, which is how a lot of this stuff happens nowadays.”

Even the professionals aren’t immune. Hornung knew of an IT professional at a different company who got hacked. He said the attackers “stole a spreadsheet where he kept all of his clients’ logins and security info.” From there, they “started logging into his clients and infecting them with ransomware.”

On a company level, you can either build your systems correctly on the front end and save yourself a world of hurt, or you can fix the problem retroactively and pay dearly for it. And no matter what: the right time to start fixing what’s broken is right now. To quote Hornung, “It’s wild out there!”

How Does PayReel Keep Clients Safe? 

With the mountains of personally identifiable information we handle each day, security is hugely important to us. We train our employees regularly on cybersecurity and we pay people to try to infiltrate our systems just to find vulnerabilities. At this point, such penetration tests might be a good idea for most companies—even those that only handle smaller-scale data.

That might not seem very glamorous, but in this case, boring is exactly what you want. If your systems are secure, hackers may be inclined to move along to the low-hanging fruit and leave you alone. Either that or you can become fluent in Russian and start operating all of your business in Russian. нет? Okay, well then get on it.

Note: We relied heavily on The Daily’s podcast episode “Who is Hacking the U.S. Economy?” for this post.