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Is it Safe to Work with Offshore Companies When Customer Data Sharing Is Involved?

Is it Safe to Work with Offshore Companies When Customer Data Sharing Is Involved?
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by Sanjeev Kapoor 16 Dec 2015

Outsourcing as a practice has firmly entrenched as a preferred method of operating businesses. Though initially people were skeptical about giving access to large amounts of data to third parties, the benefits of outsourcing has proven it to be an indispensible method.

While the advantages of IT outsourcing is obvious, there are certain risks related to security and data privacy which one cannot take for granted. These questions need to be assessed before signing contracts that will bind the client and vendor to short or long term outsourcing projects.

The most profound question that bothers clients is that of safety, especially when the sharing of customer data is involved. While there are risks, they can be addressed and mitigated by adhering to the following guidelines which help to maintain data security without compromising on the advantages that offshore outsourcing offers to its clients.

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1.      Ensuring contractual and confidentiality agreements

It is important to form a confidentiality agreement which explicitly mentions what kind of data is protected and cannot be shared to anyone else. This shall be a legally binding document that ensures that your consumer data is not misused by the vendor. Contractual agreements also specify the roles of individuals and entities which have access to the consumer data or any other data which you may share with your offshore team. These agreements bind everyone involved to keep the data confidential and secure.

2.      Checking access controls

Access control refers to selectively restricting access to data or some other resource to certain geographical areas, certain people or certain departments. Here, accessing refers to entering, using and consuming. Locks and login credentials ensure that only authorized entities can access a particular resource. It should be an on-going practice to check access controls and ensure that authorizations are given only to those who require it, especially when it comes to critical tasks and consumer data.

3.      Hiring and training of employees

Employees located offshore must be carefully selected and trained. Offshore employees can be chosen carefully based on recognized verification protocols and ensuring that certain stipulated benchmarks are satisfied. When it comes to onshore employees who deal with offshore vendors or employees, care must be taken to hire qualified employees. Every employee involved in the offshore project must be trained in data security and privacy. This ensures that everyone involved knows how important it is to maintain confidentiality.

4.      Conducting security audits

It is mandatory to conduct regular security audits on the offshore vendors. This is to ensure that your vendors are adhering to the strict security and privacy protocols which are mentioned in your initial confidentiality agreement. Moreover, infrastructural deficits can be rectified, if such problems are found during audits. It helps to recognize problems before they aggravate. Regular security audits can alert you to any lacunae on the part of offshore vendors when it comes to safeguarding consumer data. These alerts can help you to take necessary precautions and rectify what is missing.

5.      Ensuring storage protection

The more data we create, the more difficult it becomes to safeguard and protect them effectively. Thus, the most important aspect of any offshore project is to ensure that you have access to encrypted and secure storage infrastructure. Once you have access to storage infrastructure, you will need to ensure storage protection as well. This could be done with the help of adequate planning and implementation of storage security measures.

6.      Monitoring system controls

System controls manage, command, regulate and direct the behavior of other systems and devices. System controls ensure that unauthorized access of data is curbed and when such attempts are made, alerts are sent automatically. Monitoring such a facility and infrastructure is very important to ensure that your consumer data is not accessed by anyone who does not have the authority to do so.

Final thoughts

Data protection and security should be given more importance than they are given today. Many companies are beginning to realize the importance of safeguarding their consumer data, especially when offshore vendors have access to it. A strict implementation of security policies which are crystallized through adequate contracts and agreements can help sustain a long and healthy relationship between clients and their offshore outsourcing partners.

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