Locked In: How to Keep Your Data Secure When Working with Virtual Assistants

Data security is one of the primary concerns of business owners who are considering outsourcing their business processes. A study done by Ponemon Institute reports that 65% of companies that have outsourced to a third party have experienced data breach on its consumer data. Moreover, 58% of the companies said that they discovered the breach by accident and not through security alert or defense protocols in place.

Despite this security issue, outsourcing will continue to “go mainstream” according to the global outsourcing survey done by Deloittle. According to 60% of its respondents, outsourcing is not a fad for them but a standard practice in their business. It also showed that the future of business functions is moving toward an increase in outsourcing. The report also detailed that most companies continue to outsource to reduce operating costs and improve customer service. This does not mean that they are not concerned with data security, considering that the respondents’ average revenue is between $1 billion and $5 billion and its average number of employees is 7,000. It only means that they have developed a system that protects their data even if it’s handled by a third party vendor. Here are some ways to ensure data security even when you’re outsourcing.

Select a reliable service provider. Check the background of the company along with its tenure in the outsourcing business. It would be best to get feedback from its previous clients as this will reveal the reliability of the provider. As you negotiate, make sure that you communicate what you expect from them security wise. It is important that you’re on the same page when it comes to data protection.

Make a confidentiality agreement. This should be a perennial component in your outsourcing contract. It should contain your provider’s commitment to protecting your data and the repercussions if there is data loss or data breach. In Pepper, we have a “non-disclosure agreement” signed by our virtual assistants because we want to ingrain in our VAs the importance of data protection.

Assess the type of data you will share. This is very important because you need to evaluate the risks involved in sharing a particular kind of data. It is advisable that the data you share has minimal risks. However, if this is unavoidable, pace the sharing of data to assess the trustworthiness of your vendor. For example, let them work on level 1 data first and if things go well move them to level 2 until you reach the data that has the highest risk. Trust is earned overtime thus you need your provider to prove their reliability in handling sensitive data.

Require specific protocols. As a client, you need to specify the security requirements you expect from your vendor. Some of it may include using the company email address in all forms of communication, no direct contact with the client on a personal basis, written instruction from the client if printouts are required, and many more. As a virtual assistant company, we have our own security measures in place such as no-USB policy, no use of paper protocol (printing should be approved by client), and having an in-house IT personnel that regularly checks the network activity and its defenses.

Tech talk. If you are still wary about the security procedure of your vendor, ask one of your IT experts to talk to the IT personnel of your provider. These guys speak the same lingo and will understand each other better. It would be helpful to have a checklist that your in-house IT can use to evaluate the reliability of your vendor’s security measures. This will also give your provider the opportunity to adjust and comply with the protocols written in that checklist.

Data security is a balance between establishing security measures within your organization and being involved in creating security protocols with your vendor.  It’s about mindfully delegating tasks and entrusting data to a credible outsourcing company. More importantly, it’s about establishing a good relationship with your vendor and communicating with them closely to ensure successful collaboration and responsible use of data.

About Pepper Virtual Assistants

Pepper Virtual Assistant Services is a business solutions firm that specializes on administrative assistance, customer support, CRM, copywriting, and personal virtual assistance. We take pride in our reliable service and responsive client handling which embodies our team’s optimal performance.



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