For companies interested in outsourcing their call center services, one area of big concern is data security. I’ve outlined below what are the security issues companies need to be concerned with when outsourcing and what steps can they take to minimize potential security breaches.

Dishonest outsourcing staff, lost and stolen computers and lost backup tapes can cause a number of security problems. Also, computer hacking is another problem companies have to deal with. These days, computer hackers are more astute and take bigger chances than ever before. Ranging from a single skilled teenage hacker to a well-funded international crime syndicate, these criminals can break through even the most complex information systems.

That’s why it’s important for companies to not ignore the fact that even with traditional defenses like intrusion detection systems and firewalls, security breaches can still happen. It’s better to anticipate the problems and try to prevent them than to hope it doesn’t happen and then it’s all about damage control when it unfortunately does.

Outsourcing a call center has the added problem of a third party staff having access to a company’s customer database-- but the reality is that they need that access to do their job. So what is a company to do to minimize exposure to potential security problems? First off, company representatives need to know the following: who needs access to the data, what specific access do they need and what are typical usage scenarios?

Once the company has identified who has access to what data and what information is needed for an outsourcing call center to do their job, here are some steps to take to help secure company data.

  • Management and IT personnel need to work together to establish an effective security policy that indicates what is sensitive data vs. regular data and how it is to be handled.
  • Companies need to do their homework when researching potential outsourcing call centers and choose the one that has strict security policies (and enforces them) and initial and ongoing training and/or communications on how to keep client data secure.
  • Keep data usage to a minimum so when a staff person needs to look at let’s say five documents to work with a customer, don’t give them access to any more—just what they need.
  • Confirm with the call center provider that they are aware and strictly follow company privacy and intellectual policies as indicated.
  • Make sure the call center provider does regular monitoring of outbound Internet traffic and emails for potential information leaks.
  • Companies need to conduct regular network security audits in addition to application/database information wherever it is stored so they can identify any current or potential data security vulnerabilities.