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After the recent data breach in Facebook that scared billions of people, the public is generally more protective of their information and are more conscious about safeguarding it. This holds true especially when it comes to guarding the data of a company, as something as seemingly minor as a competitor knowing old information can lead to massive revenue loss. It’s not all about money either, as there are other sensitive pieces of data that a company keeps which absolutely cannot be revealed to the public. However, there are times where companies need to put their data in relative danger.
One example of this is when a company outsources one of their projects or processes to an outsourcing firm. Although there are stringent countermeasures enacted when a company avails of the services of an outsourcing firm, the risk of data reaching external parties will always be there. Even if a company were to go with an outsourcing company that was in the same area as them, there will always be that possibility of information being seen by other entities. But does this mean outsourcing to another company wouldn’t be worth it?
Of course not. There is a plethora of benefits when hiring an outsourcing company, cost reduction and workload efficiency being two examples. However, because it has been acknowledged that data theft is a real threat, certain steps should be taken in order to diminish the possibility of that happening. As mentioned before, though, there are already stringent measures that are being implemented to improve data security. However, there are some other things companies can do in order to ensure their data, and their customer’s, is as secure as possible. Here, we lay out some of the ways you can properly protect your information whenever you outsource.
Get the right outsourcing company
Almost every other security measure we are going to mention is going to be moot if this first step wasn’t taken care of. The most obvious, and yet most important security measure companies can employ in order to safeguard their data is to choose the right firm to outsource to. In order to achieve this, companies need to do some detailed research in order to know which vendor is the best one to go with. Despite how important efficiency and work ethic are when choosing somebody to outsource work to, it is also important to note how these firms treat their client’s data. Check the kind of security measures they employ, and ask some of their current or previous clients as to how satisfied they are concerning the outsourcing firm’s data security protocols.
Educating the outsourcing firm on how to handle data
This might seem to be an obvious rule to follow, but it still needs to be stated because it is actually often overlooked by a lot of companies. These companies simply tell the outsourcing firm what is expected of them, some of the processes of their tasks, and then they leave them to it. In the end, improper data handling occurs, and in some worst-case scenarios, sensitive information was leaked to other entities. This scenario could be easily avoided, as long as the right precautions are taken. Companies should ensure they lay down all the necessary processes when it comes to handling data to the outsourcing firm. If need be, they should even provide training, and send out one of their employees who knows the ins and outs of data handling, so they can ensure everything runs smoothly, and that sensitive information doesn’t get out.
Beef up data security
Here, we go back to strengthening the data security of the company itself. Before outsourcing to another firm, companies should consider employing application layer firewalls, and even some database monitoring gateways. With this, the data being access is tracked, and it also protects the data from external access. Another boon to using these kinds of software and devices is that it can prevent privilege abuse. It also protects against vulnerability exploitation as well, so only the people who have the right to view the data are able to access it. In fact, if the company already makes use of this kind of technology, they should either look for an outsourcing firm that does the same, or at least encourage their chosen firm to employ the same strategies. This way, it will also increase the overall protection of the data in the long run.
Make use of other prevention technologies
This one not only applies to the company’s protocols, but with the outsourcing firm’s as well. Companies should stay updated on the best software that is able to keep track, organize, and most of all, secure the data being used and stored in their systems. On the outsourcing firm’s side, companies should also make sure the firm is making use of the best modern technology to monitor and secure data. An example of this technology is software that has the ability to control and track the flow of data. This type of software can track who is making use of the information, and whether or not they have the right to do so. Companies should also make sure the firm they outsource to is able to protect their sensitive data from being copied or emailed to other people.
Conduct regular network security and application audits
Once a company has chosen the right outsourcing firm, they should still conduct regular audits in order to make sure the right processes are being followed. Just because the outsourcing firm is reputable, that doesn’t mean their processes cannot be improved upon. Database and application security audits should also be conducted, to make sure the technology being utilized is still working properly, and there are no vulnerabilities that malicious entities are able to leverage. This doesn’t only apply to the software, but also to the devices themselves. It is also advisable to conduct some surprise audits so the company can really make sure the outsourcing firm is ready for any eventuality.
The rule of least privilege
One of the most important concepts and protocols of computer and data security is the rule of least privilege, also known as the principle of least authority. This entails the limitation of a certain device’s or user’s ability to monitor and access data, which then lessens the potential points of invasion or security breach. Access level depends on the duties that is to be done on by that user, and almost no single entity will have absolute access to all the data in the system. This is very useful because before this became popular, some companies allowed full access to their employees, even if they did not need access to that information. This made it easier for malicious parties to gain access to the data, as more people being able to access it equates to more possible entry points. Another thing to note is that companies should not provide access to all the data at the same time. Only provide what is needed for the job to be done, and even then, this should still be strictly monitored.