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How to Find a Safe and Secure Service Provider for Your Business How to choose a service provider that maintains high-security standards and can be trusted with your business.

By Daria Leshchenko Edited by Michael Dolan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While businesses count the days until coming back to normal, most will face a new reality upon return: decentralized offices, flexible remote work policies, increased health precautions, and an ongoing economic crisis. To adjust to new conditions, companies will look to cut expenses.

As a result, the global Business Process Outsourcing market size is expected to reach $405.6 billion by 2027, expanding at a stunning annual growth of 8.0%, with customer service and human resources taking up the biggest shares.

While presenting numerous advantages, partnering with a service provider has some concerns. The most important of which is data security.

In 2020 the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million, a 10% rise over the last five years. American companies face the highest costs with an average of $8.19 million per breach, while in the UK, it's closer to $3.9 million.

Such high stakes should not discourage businesses from saving up to 30% of their budget by outsourcing. But they should make companies approach the selection process of their partners carefully.

How? Sticking to the following recommendations.

Related: 4 Tips for Outsourcing in 2021

Ask for security certifications

A certification is a validation of the company's efforts to maintain good security hygiene. Depending on your business, you may require specific industry standards. However, even the general ones demonstrate that the business has security on its agenda.

For example, ISO 27001, or its American counterpart NIST, is one of the most common standards defining information security management. They regulate both technical infrastructure requirements and the way a company runs its processes. This way, you can be sure that your customer data is safe, communication is confidential and staff are thoroughly vetted and properly trained. It's especially important for BPO providers. The standards require keeping records of all the processes and ensuring its compliance with data security protocols. This way, no information will be lost if personnel changes, and your business won't be interrupted.

Other security certificates are more industry-specific but are also a sign of a high-security level. PCI DSS is a standard for the payment card industry. It's one of the highest security certifications a provider can obtain for data security of payments information. The GDPR is important if you're planning to do business in Europe. And HIPAA compliance is required in the US if you deal with health-related customer data.

Related: Personalization and Privacy in a GDPR World

Look into hiring and training processes

No matter how sophisticated cyberattacks are these days, the weakest part of any security system is people. 43% of US and UK employees have made mistakes resulting in cybersecurity repercussions, and 35% of data breaches have been attributed to human error. To avoid this, companies should hire people with no history of security violations and provide regular security training to the staff. Be sure to inquire how a company hires and trains new employees. Do they perform background checks? How often do people go through retraining? Do employees sign NDAs? Did they have any data leaks in the past? All these questions are fine to ask before trusting someone with your project.

Check the policies and guidelines

If a company takes security seriously, it will enforce an appropriate policy. Don't hesitate to ask which policies and guidelines are in place and how the company enforces them. A solid informational security policy should cover software, hardware maintenance, Internet usage and email communications, access controls like password management, and handling of customers' data. A company that takes security seriously should have no problem sharing a document that regulates it.

Related: Five Ways to Protect Your Company against Cyber Attacks

Check test results

Many security certifications require a company to undergo a penetration test to detect possible vulnerabilities. Often, security-conscious companies run them internally to prevent leaks and breaches. A formal report of the test results would contain confidential information that they are unlikely to disclose. But you can inquire about test results in conversations and negotiations with your potential partner. Ask when was the last time the company went through a test, who held it and what suggestions were made. It's acceptable to inquire whether the vulnerabilities were resolved and additional precautions taken. You may not be provided with full information, but the sheer fact that the test was taken demonstrates dedication by the company to security standards.

There is no single bulletproof solution against a cyberattack, but the truth is that most data is lost not because of a targeted attack but because of corporate neglect. So choose a service provider who has a security policy in order and rigorously follows the basic rules. This way, you can not only save the budget on outsourcing but be sure that your business and data is as safe (if not more) as in-house.

Daria Leshchenko

CEO of SupportYourApp, Co-founded Label Your Data & Outstaff Your Team

Daria Leshchenko became the CEO of SupportYourApp at the age of 24. Under her supervision, the company was featured on the Top-5 outsourced customer support providers list. She also co-founded Label Your Data and Outstaff Your Team. Daria was featured in the 200 Female Founders list by Inc.

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