In 2020, the average cost of a data breach globally was $3.86 million. In the same year, 155.8 million records were exposed due to breaches in the United States alone. Cybersecurity is a booming industry, and every company is a target.
Firms must continually look for ways to tighten up their security. With the ever-increasing focus on outsourcing to streamline operations, this may be easier said than done. The use of third-party providers and cloud-based services may expose companies to data breaches if not handled correctly.
Does that mean that you should never outsource critical functions?
Of course not, but you do have to take care of with whom you partner. In this article, we’ll look at how to choose the correct service provider and how to ensure that your data remains secure.
Why Your Partner’s Security is Critical to Your Success
When working with a third-party service, you must provide them with access to some of your company’s critical systems. Their consultants will generally have to:
- Check and update personally identifiable information
- Confirm transactions
- Check payment details
- Issue refunds
- Solve queries on the client’s behalf
Even if they provide limited support in the form of live chat, they’ll require extensive access. Service specialists must be able to answer all the queries that your clients may ask. To be an outstanding support company, they must have access to a wealth of information.
If their security measures are below par, you’re putting your client’s information at risk. This action leaves you vulnerable to liability issues. If your service partner’s systems are breached, your company’s reputation will suffer.
Clients will argue that they shared their information with your firm, not the service providers.
Selecting the Correct Support Company Partner
To mitigate the risk, you must research potential partners carefully. Be sure to ask what security measures they implement in terms of both cyber and physical security.
Does the firm that you wish to work with take physical security as seriously as you do? Visit their offices to find out. Ask for a tour and take careful notes on how easy it is for an outsider to walk in.
While looking around, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are visitors allowed to wander around unattended?
- Can someone easily leave a flash drive or device loaded with malware lying around?
- Does the support company have a protocol to deal with potential breaching devices?
- Are the consultants well-versed in security awareness training? Will they recognize a phishing attempt?
- Are all the computers password-protected? Are the consultants good at logging off from the system when they leave their desks?
- How does the support company expand its team? What checks does it perform on applicants to ensure that they’re legitimate?
- If the firm employs remote workers, check what security measures they put in place to ensure that your data is safe at all times.
- Do they silo information and restrict access to only the most critical functions required for the employee?
What security protocols has the support company put in place to protect against cyber-attacks? Your deal partner should:
- Use high-level encryption software to protect personally identifiable information on their systems.
- Have strict policies in place regarding how and when employees may use the company’s resources and internet.
- Conduct regular briefings with their team to educate them about the latest attack vectors.
- Be able to remote wipe any support company devices that fall into the wrong hands.
- Use strong anti-malware and antivirus protection that extends to email spam filters.
- Change agent passwords regularly in case one has been compromised.
- Set strict rules about what constitutes a strong password.
- Consider using two-factor authentication to improve security further.
Is there any way to guarantee that your third-party provider is 100% clean? Unfortunately, no, but with the tips that we’ve laid out above, you should have enough information to sort good providers from bad.
No support company will provide you with every single measure they employ. It would be counterproductive for them to do so because there’s a chance that you might be a bad actor yourself. They will, however, provide you with enough information to prove that they understand the importance of cybersecurity.
Do you research carefully upfront to partner with a firm as serious about security as you are? Your business’s reputation depends on it.