What Are The Best Strategies To Prevent Contact Center Security Breaches?

What Are The Best Strategies to Prevent Contact Center Security Breaches?

In a recent episode of the CX Files podcast, DATAMARK Head of Sales and Marketing, Randy Arellano, talked about changes to the customer service environment since the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. One of the most important changes Randy talked about was security – how customer service experts can protect the valuable customer data of their clients in an increasingly complex business environment.

This is an extremely important – and very sensitive – topic. It’s sensitive because companies that are affected by data breaches or hacking often want to keep the news as quiet as possible. It can be damaging to the reputation of a major company to see the media reporting that the private data of millions of their customers have been copied and sold online.

Contact Center Security Breaches with Costly Consequences

IBM publishes a study every year focused on data breaches. Their most recent estimate for the cost of recovery from a breach is $4.5 million.  It is worth noting that this figure has increased by 15% in just 3 years.

Recovery is expensive,  but the loss of customer data can be far more damaging. In October 2023, MGM Resorts International said that a cyberattack that took place in September would impact their third-quarter results by over $100 million.

MGM shut down all of their systems when it became clear that they were under attack.  At the time, social media was flooded with posts of long check-in lines and error messages for their flagship hotel in Las Vegas. Private customer data had been accessed by hackers. Some of the data included their home address, gender, date of birth, driver’s license details, and in some cases, even social security and passport details were obtained.

MGM  wasn’t the only company that was affected in 2023 – this merely illustrates how a well-known company can face the challenge of stopping the breach, repairing the damage, and then managing the impact on its reputation. It can immediately impact business activities and then take a long time to recover.

As the IBM report suggested, recovering from a data breach, especially the loss of customer data, can be extremely expensive and, in some cases, fatal – around 60% of small companies will close forever within 6 months of a data breach.

Almost 3,000 major data breaches were recorded in 2023 with a total of over eight billion records of information being accessed. Where customer data has been breached, each record accessed illicitly has the potential to put that individual at risk of identity fraud or a phishing attack.

Safeguarding your Business Against Breaches

Finding a partner with a strong track record of protecting customer data is one of the most important steps you can take if you want to prevent your own business facing up to the challenges of a data breach.

There are some practical checks and approaches you can implement, including:

Robust IT infrastructure

Employing advanced cybersecurity tools like firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and antivirus software is essential. Regularly updating and patching systems fortifies defenses against vulnerabilities. Additionally, securing network infrastructure through technologies such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption ensures safe data transmission.

Be aware that most customer service processes now include a contact center and remote agents. It is not enough to just protect the contact center. In addition,  it’s important to explore preventative measures through the use of artificial intelligence detection systems. These are like police cars for your data network that autonomously patrol, looking for unusual activity. They can alert a network engineer to a potential or attempted breach long before it becomes a crisis.

Data Encryption

Encrypting sensitive data both at rest and in transit is crucial for maintaining security. This ensures that even if data is intercepted or accessed by unauthorized individuals, it remains unreadable and secure. This becomes particularly critical for a distributed workforce. It guarantees that even if data being transmitted could potentially be intercepted by a hacker. However, because it is encrypted, it is impossible to decode.

Access Control and Authentication

Implementing stringent access control policies is essential. This ensures that sensitive data is only accessible to authorized personnel, thereby enhancing security measures. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides an additional layer of security, particularly for accessing critical systems. Together, these measures fortify the protection of sensitive information and enhance overall cybersecurity posture.

This applies inside and outside the contact center. All actions need security logs so user actions are recorded and can be audited.

These are the key requirements, but a full security review will include many other aspects. Selecting an experienced customer service partner with a mature approach to data security is crucial. They will be able to advise on their own approach and even offer examples or case studies.

It is important to regularly audit and test existing procedures and to be aware of compliance changes for regulated industries. Employees need training, support, and coaching to ensure they remain vigilant. Many companies even create random tests, such as phishing emails prompting users to ‘claim their prize.’ This isn’t to punish employees but to remind them that data security is the responsibility of every team member. This is not just a technology issue; it involves creating a culture of security at work.

Bottom Line?

By implementing these measures, a contact center or customer service operation can significantly enhance its security posture. This helps safeguard customer data and minimize the risk of data breaches. It’s a continuous process that requires vigilance, adaptation to new threats, and a culture of security awareness throughout the organization.

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