Seven Strategies to Protect Customer Identities in a Work-at-Home Environment

Seven Strategies to Protect Customer Identities in a Work-at-Home Environment

By TMCnet Special Guest
Marc Robinson, Global Director of Product Management, Work@ Home, Sitel
  |  October 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Sept. issue of CUSTOMER magazine.

It is no secret that landing a job in today’s tough economic times is difficult. People often must commute many miles because their local community has limited opportunities.

With this in mind, more customer care call centers are initiating opportunities for agents to work from home. Rather than driving a long distance to sit at a desk, agents now have the luxury of doing their jobs and providing customer care from the comfort of their own home.

The main concern with agents working from home is security of the customer’s information. In a time when data breaches occur almost every week, customers are often uncomfortable giving out their personal information to an unknown voice on the phone.

Here are seven strategies to protect customer identities and confidential information when agents work from home.

Leverage managed thin client devices for work-at-home agents. First, ensure that agents do not use their home computers without additional software to protect data. Second, keep confidential customer information secure with a company-provided thin client device. These devices include technology and software already in place to keep the computer at the server-level. Third, with no further output options (printers, external storage, etc.), customer data cannot be extracted.

Deploy endpoint encapsulation on the thin client device with virtual desktop infrastructure. Provide a completely secured environment through both hardware and software. The cloud-based VDI lockdown will prevent access to the Internet or private documents and will only allow the agent access to client-approved areas.

Only allow the device to unlock after two-factor authentication. Implement a token generator and a user profile for access rights. Access to the network and support tools is only available when the agent enters the correct username and password and token.  

Employ agent biometric profiling. After the agent passes through the two-factor authentication, require a biometric validator such as a thumbprint or keystroke cadence snapshot as well to authenticate the agent. This validates that the agent is the right person and ensures authorized access.

Use technology to mask and distort confidential information. Install software that garbles touch tones associated with customer-dialed numbers such as credit card or Social Security Numbers. This software shields the customer’s personal information from the end agent.

Install anti-virus and malware protection on every device as part of the virtual desktop. Upon login, the agent must provide validation and verification of the endpoint to confirm that there is no malware or virus that could breach the customer information. The cloud-based VDI environment will be securely locked down against malicious software.

Monitor and track activity to keep agents honest. First and foremost, require prospective agents to pass background and criminal checks. Next, monitor and track agent activity. This activity includes screen shots, voice recordings and keystroke movements. Also, keep a log and report of who is logged in where, when and why. Then monitor for unusual behaviors or patterns. If the worst-case scenario happens and customer information is breached, the agent at fault can quickly be identified.

Keeping customer information locked down is key to a good reputation in the customer care industry. A security breach can tarnish a company’s reputation, which could in turn damage the relationship with its call center. The above seven strategies protect both your customer’s information and your reputation.

Edited by Braden Becker
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