Today’s customer services teams conduct most of their daily operations online. The internet has made it much easier to connect with customers and solve their problems, but it also poses some unique security risks.
A cyber attack would not only hinder your ability to provide customer service, but it could also cause serious financial and reputational damage. To prevent cyber attacks, customer service teams should implement security measures to protect themselves while working online. One of the easiest ways to do this is via Managed IT services, which allow you to outsource many of your most pressing IT tasks. Here are some of the cyber threats that customer service teams face as well as five things you can do to improve your security levels.
Why are customer service teams vulnerable to attacks?
When compared to other parts of an organization, customer service teams are often the most vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is because customer service teams are public-facing, so employees frequently contact people outside of their own organization. This makes it much easier for hackers to observe how a customer service team operates and develop an effective scam.
What types of attacks should customer service teams watch out for?
One type of attack that customer service teams often encounter is phishing. Phishing happens when a hacker pretends to be a trusted third party and tricks an employee into sharing their username, password, or other valuable pieces of personal information.
This typically happens via email or social media message, but can also happen over the phone. Phishing attacks that happen over the phone are called voice phishing or “vishing”. Customer service teams often use third-party apps as part of their work, which makes them vulnerable to phishing.
Additionally, hackers may run phishing attacks posing as your organization and targeting your customers. This can seriously damage your company’s reputation, even if the hackers never actually gain access to your systems.
Malware is another type of attack that is often targeted at customer service teams. Malware is a form of destructive or malicious software that can collect personal information, damage your systems, and more. Malware often downloads surreptitiously when a user clicks an unsecured link. One particularly dangerous type of malware is ransomware, which blocks users from collecting their most valuable pieces of data until they pay a ransom.
Finally, customer service teams should watch out for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks happen when hackers overwhelm your system with requests, causing an outage. Many cyber criminals use DDoS attacks as a distraction while conducting other more invasive attacks.
These are just a few of the cyber threats that can affect customer service teams. Hackers are constantly developing new strategies to keep up with new technology advancements. This is why it’s so important for customer service teams to update their cybersecurity strategies regularly.
5 Ways To Improve Your Customer Service Security
1. Vet your third-party vendors carefully.
Many customer service teams rely heavily on third-party vendors to stay productive. While third-party services can help you work more efficiently, they can also pose potential security risks.
Before committing to a contract with third-party providers, conduct a thorough review of their security practices to ensure you are on the same page. You may also choose to include a clause about security practices in your contract for extra protection.
2. Provide security training sessions for your customer service representatives.
Your customer service reps are your company’s first line of defense against cyber attacks. Ideally, your cyber security team should be able to identify phishing messages and potentially dangerous links online. Unfortunately, many customer service teams are so focused on handling customer requests that security falls by the wayside.
Hosting security training sessions throughout the year empowers your team to make safe choices when working online. Many security threats and scams are easy to prevent, but your team needs to know what to look for and what steps to take. Trainings are also an easy way to keep your customer service team and your IT team connected and encourage open communication.
3. Use secure networks and devices.
Ideally, your customer service team should be working from secure devices with firewalls, anti-virus software, VPNs, and other security programs. However, many customer service teams are working from home these days, which can make this difficult to implement.
To help keep your teams safe while working remotely, provide them with computers and mobile devices that are specifically for work. Consider providing secure home internet connections if your team members don’t already have them. By supplying your own devices, you can ensure that they are configured for secure operations.
Encourage your team to work from home, rather than working from vulnerable public WiFi connections. If a team member does need to work on the go, a secure hotspot is a better choice than public WiFi.
4. Update your systems regularly.
Cyber criminals are constantly developing new strategies, and you’ll need to update your systems frequently in order to keep up. It’s particularly important to keep your software programs updated, as each update fixes potential vulnerabilities.
It’s also important to reassess your security strategy each year to make sure it’s still working as intended. You may need to add new layers of protection or adjust your existing strategy to address new challenges.
5. Use two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication is easy to implement, and it’s also a very effective way to protect your data. With two-factor authentication, users need to enter two pieces of information to access their accounts, rather than just a password. The second piece of information is typically a numerical code sent via email or text message. This ensures that even if your password gets into the wrong hands, hackers still won’t be able to access your account.
Customer service teams are very vulnerable to outside threats, so strong security measures are extremely important. If you don’t have the resources in-house to manage your cybersecurity strategy, consider partnering with a Managed IT firm. Managed IT firms can help you monitor and update your systems, install security tools, and more.
About the Author
Carl Mazzanti is Co-Founder and President of eMazzanti Technologies, CISSP, Microsoft Gold Partner and WatchGuard Platinum One Partner, leading one of the premier IT consulting services for businesses throughout the New York metropolitan area and internationally. The firm manages the Cyber Security coverage for over 400 active organizations ranging from professional services firms to high-end global retailers.
eMazzanti is all about delivering powerful, efficient, Cyber Security tools and outsourced IT services, such as computer network management and troubleshooting, threat hunting, PCI DSS compliance, security awareness implementations, mobile workforce technology, malware remediation, cloud computing, and business continuity and disaster recovery.