Securing what you can’t see: how to make your work-from-home contact centre as safe as houses

Allowing agents to work from home has plenty of advantages, so long as you take steps to reduce the risk of data compromise, writes MaxContact Director – Australia Operations, Daniel Harding

Did the COVID crisis force you to introduce remote working arrangements for your company’s contact centre? If so, you’re far from alone. The pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 saw scores of Australian organisations racing to find ways to enable their agents to log on from the home office.

It’s an arrangement that can work and work very well, provided your enterprise is using a cloud-based contact centre platform that’s accessible from anywhere that has a decent internet connection.

The remote model is less prone to disruption by flood, fire, pandemic and other unforeseen disasters, and provides both parties with greater flexibility than they’d enjoy with a centralised set-up.

Eighteen months after having had to make a virtue of necessity, some businesses have found remote working suits them so well they’re planning to persist with it permanently.

Others like the idea in theory but are concerned about visibility and security when agents are no longer ranged in rows in a dedicated facility, their mobile phones locked away for the duration of the shift.

So, how can you prevent a data breach or compromise – accidental or otherwise – when agents are no longer working under the eagle eye of a team leader or contact centre manager? Here are some ways to lessen the risk.

My machine, my rules

A BYO device policy can seem a good way to reduce your spend on infrastructure but it comes at a cost – lack of control over what else your employee chooses to do with that device, during work time and after hours. You can circumvent this problem by issuing every agent with a dedicated, company-owned machine. Make yourself the administrator and you’ll be able to install anti-viral software and implement stringent controls that prevent the user visiting unauthorised sites, downloading files and inserting USBs. Yes, there’s an upfront outlay but it’s cheaper than the cost of mopping up a serious data breach.

Locking down the location

So, they’re locked into using your equipment, but what if an agent decides to situate themselves and that equipment in a locale that’s less than secure – think mate’s place, coffee shop, local library or some other public setting where passers-by can take a gander at your corporate and customer data? If you’re using a premium cloud contact centre platform, you’ll be able to prevent their doing so by whitelisting – ie. locking – their log-on to a single IP address; that of their private residence.

Every click you make, I’ll be watching you

You might not be able to see your agents in the flesh but you’ll still be able to observe everything they’re doing, keystroke by keystroke, provided you’re using a contact centre platform with sophisticated audit tracking features. This inbuilt security technology makes it impossible for agents to pull off an ‘inside job’ without being detected. It allows you to see if they’ve downloaded customer files to share, steal or sell and making use of it will make your home-based contact centre significantly more secure.

Taking cyber-security training seriously

Most data breaches aren’t the result of a dearth of tools and technologies. Human error is more often than not to blame – an employee accidentally shares information that was meant for their eyes only or experiences a momentary lapse of attention and activates a phishing email. Is it more likely to happen when agents are working at home on their Pat Malone than in a busy contact centre surrounded by co-workers? Perhaps – but thorough and regular cyber-security training can help to minimise the possibility, by ensuring your team remains alive to the risks and aware of the common warning signs that something’s not kosher.

Bringing it home safely

There is lots to like about home-based contact centres and the great remote working experiment of 2020-21 has demonstrated just how well they can work, for employers and employees alike.

Adopting sound operating procedures and a contact centre platform with baked-in protection features can reduce the attendant cyber-security risks and ensure your customer and corporate data are safeguarded against compromise or attack.

 

Daniel Harding is Director – Australia Operations at MaxContact, one of the fastest growing next-generation contact centre specialists and the provider of an all-in-one cloud contact centre suite solution. Based in Queensland, Daniel is responsible for working closely with customers and a network of channel partners around the country to deliver successful IT contact centre deployment outcomes. Prior to joining the contact centre industry five years ago, Daniel worked in field operations in the oil and gas sector at organisations including Essar and Shell.