Outsourcing Partner Advice: How to Protect Your Data and Keep Information Secure

Outsourcing Software Development Partner

By Igor Tkach

Data security, intellectual property protection, and information confidentiality are among the top concerns related to business process outsourcing. When it comes to managing projects remotely, 73% of the world’s leading organizations1 name information security as a major decisive factor for choosing an outsourcing software development partner

This requirement makes perfect sense as data breaches, misuse or disclosure of sensitive corporate information can potentially result in financial and reputational loss or legally binding actions. Thus, the first and most important thing you should do to ensure your project security is to verify that your service provider has a sturdy information security policy, compliant with international data protection regulations. 

How to Choose an Outsourcing Software Development Partner

It’s vital to test the competence of a project outsourcing vendor before making a final decision on your prospective partnership. You can use this checklist during negotiations with your potential tech partners: 

Security Certification 

ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001 are globally recognized benchmarks in data security management. If your potential outsourcing vendor is certified against ISO requirements you can rest assured that their operational procedures, incident management protocols, and informational security policies meet the highest international safety and security standards. 

Company’s Current Cybersecurity Level 

Regular penetration testing is one of the best preventive methods to keep your digital product safe. So don’t hesitate to ask your tech partner how often they perform pen tests. Profound analysis of outsourcing company’s IT infrastructure can prove their resistance to cyberattacks, or reveal potential breach points and security gaps in their system. 

Procedure for Managing Data Breaches 

Theft or misuse of sensitive information is one of the biggest concerns for companies managing software development projects remotely. Thus, your service provider must have an exhaustive incident response strategy in place. Ask your potential partner about the actions they would take to tackle insider threats, loss of backup media, and web shell attacks on your remote infrastructure.

Data Security Principles

A reliable outsourcing company would design their system of handling data based on the CIA triad. This model ensures confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all data that is stored on the company servers. 

  • Confidentiality offers a guarantee that databases, source code, commercial information, and financial reports cannot be accessed by unauthorized users both over a network and locally. 
  • Integrity accounts for the accuracy and trustworthiness of information over its entire lifecycle. It ensures that data packages are free from tampering and remain authentic and consistent in transit. 
  • Availability principle entails that data should be readily accessible for all participants, who might need it. This implies that systems, networks, and applications must run like clockwork even in case of a power outage, component failures, natural disasters or ransomware. 

Best Practices for Information Security

A solid information security policy is of critical importance to outsourcing organizations. But to stay on top of cybersecurity trends and ensure compliance with international data protection regulation, experts recommend that these organizations implement the following security measures: 

Secure Enterprise Wireless Network

Outsourcing software development is impossible without a network where data is kept and shared among the team members. It implies that the remote developers who work for you should use only a secure VPN connection when entering your system. A VPN encrypts all the data transferred via the Internet, shielding your source code, business records, team chats, and personally identifiable information from unauthorized access by malicious users. 

Reinforced Password Policy

Password authentication is a common, yet powerful means to safeguard computers, smartphones, and online accounts against theft and misuse of confidential information. However, most people often reuse one or two passwords for multiple websites. Statistics reveal that 51% of working adults worldwide2 use the same login credentials both for personal and business accounts.

When you grant access to your company’s website or data, ask everyone involved in your operations, from engineers and project managers to supervisors and admin staff, to verify their accounts with a strong password combination. A hack-proof passcode should be a seemingly unrelated sequence of letters, numbers and symbols at least eight characters long. To further fortify your corporate assets, you can introduce a two-factor authentication across your remote teams.

Robust Malware Protection

Outsourcing organizations must have a reliable anti-virus solution in place. It should cover every aspect of the malware protection spectrum from detection of emerging threats and automated response procedures to endpoint diagnostics and computer health assessment. 

If your tech partner provides employees with company-issued workstations, they likely configure and maintain the security defence systems across their devices. However, if the vendor adheres to BYOD policy, you should inform your remote team on the importance of installing security software on their devices. 

Unassailable Data Storage 

Data storage security refers to the mechanism of safeguarding storage resources and their content, both on-premises, in external data centers and the cloud. This includes the physical protection of servers, computer hard disks, and portable devices. IT companies also implement software solutions to secure information at rest within online repositories, storage area networks (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) systems.

There are two main approaches in ensuring data storage security while managing remote software development projects:

  1. When the product is fully developed on the vendor’s site, all information will be saved locally. Therefore your tech partner will take care of stored data security and integrity. 
  2. If the team builds software on your side, you have total control over the development infrastructure and its security. This way you can use your preferred technologies, as well as manual and automated computing processes for data protection. 

Access Control Mechanism 

Partnering with a project outsourcing vendor requires opening your virtual doors to external stakeholders. To forestall privilege abuse and vulnerability exploitation on their part you should enforce role-based access control. 

This approach, also known as the principle of least authority, states that users should have access only to those files, equipment, and systems they need to perform their job assignments. A clear vision of who has access to what is a must-have for a secure data management system. 

About the Author

Igor Tkach

Igor Tkach is a General Manager at Daxx, a software development and technology consulting service company, part of Grid Dynamics Group. Igor’s areas of expertise span leading tech businesses, building remote teams, scaling business processes, client success, management consulting, business analysis, Agile project management and product management. Igor has contributed to notable media outlets such as Forbes, Clutch, TechBeacon, Coiner, StartUs Magazine, and more.

References:

  1. https://www2.deloitte.com/cy/en/pages/governance-risk-and-compliance/articles/outsourcingamidcomplexity.html
  2. https://dataprot.net/statistics/password-statistics/

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