Parasol’s contractor payroll systems ‘back up and running’

Parasol used the weekend to get its payroll systems “back up and running,” following a cyber-attack on its business which left thousands of contractors without pay.

In a pop-up message on MyParasol, the umbrella company last night said users should now “submit timesheets, if they are not already on the system.”

It represents quite a turnaround since Friday morning, when Parasol emailed agencies to say timesheets could still not be processed, nor invoices sent, as the portal was “not yet open”.

Its email stated: “Our payroll systems are back up and running. For now [though], our portal is not open yet and we are therefore not yet able to process timesheets and send invoices.”

'Welcome Back'

But in a “Welcome Back” window now visible on its log-in page, Parasol nods to its initial commitment that once service resumes, it will be waiving its margin.

“Margin has been applied automatically to your payment this week. [But] we will refund it within 28 days,” the MyParasol message says.

Not all contractors will be satisfied however. “Waiving their margin? How generous,” reflected one contractor, sarcastically. “I’d be asking for compensation as well”.

'Currently under maintenance'

Parasol does not mention the attack in its ‘Welcome Back’ message, although in the same window, above the text, users are presented with a large exclamation mark, coloured in red.

The cloud customers of Parasol’s sister companies, SJD Accountancy and Nixon Williams, remain offline at the time of writing.

And the e-portal for umbrella contractors of Brookson -- which was also targeted in the same attack which hit the three Optionis-owned firms -- is “currently under maintenance.”

That makes Parasol the first of the four companies hit by hackers earlier this month to recover its client-facing systems and make them accessible again to customers.

'SJD and Nixon weren't the likely targets'

The working out of what happened to the four, including who orchestrated and executed the cyber-attack, and why, potentially, will now come to the fore.

“SJD and Nixon Williams were unlikely to be the primary target of these attacks,” says James Poyser, chief executive of inniAccounts.

“SJD and NW likely simply have shared IT [with Parasol. And while] the motives are unclear…the vast amounts of cash handled by these firms, or perhaps resentment given IR35, [are each a likely inducement].”

'When rather than if'

Online, one contractor asked why the attack has not been covered by national news broadcasters, given it hit four companies and an untold number of contractors.

But a LinkedIn user in the accountancy sector says size is no security blanket from cyber-crime, even ransomware, which is still suspected as the nature of the attack on the four.

The user posted: “My thoughts are with SJD and Nixon Williams. Being a victim of crime is horrible. But for any business, however large or small, it is always ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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