Today, the contact center is a critical tool for success in the marketplace. Customers, faced with a variety of choices that often seem quite identical, are choosing which companies to remain loyal to based on the quality of customer service they are offered, and the ease of doing business with that company. But in the 21st century, the contact center is becoming something else: a source for cyberthreats.
High profile thefts of customer information that we have seen recently – Target, for starters, and more recently Sears – is raising the awareness among large retailers of the threat that cybercrime represents. Contact centers, which keep a lot of personal and sensitive information stored, are a prime target for hackers. The threat levels are greatly increased when a company shares its sensitive information with third-party firms. This has put many companies on the spot today: to save money, they outsource many of their operations, including contact center operations. According to a new study, however, this may be increasing their chances of becoming the targets of cyber criminals.
A new study by risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker Willis Group Holdings plc found that technology and telecommunications companies estimated their cyber exposures at higher levels than other companies the Fortune 1000. According to Willis Group, this may be an indication that those firms may be underestimating their cyber risk exposure.
Image via Shutterstock
"We looked at how tech companies estimate their own cyber exposures, and they're seeing higher frequency and severity of exposure than others in the Fortune 1000," said Ann Longmore, the head of D&O, Fiduciary and EPL Products for Willis FINEX in North America, and co-author of the study. “Significantly, they are twice as concerned about outsourced vendor risk," Longmore added. The study found that tech/telecom companies reported concerns about the potential for outsourced vendor risk at a rate more than double other large corporations (25 percent versus 12 percent). Outsourced vendors are comprised of any organization providing data, IT or security services.”
While the study doesn’t specifically address the contact center function, call centers are one of the most popular operations to be outsourced by companies seeking to save on labor costs. Since contact centers handle data such as customer account numbers, credit card numbers, banking information, passwords and PINs and even social security numbers, they have become a prime target for cyber-thieves. Since many companies are underestimating their risk, they are not being as careful as they should be, particularly when they send the contact center function – and the sensitive data required to carry it out – abroad.
This has induced some organizations to bring their contact center functionality back into the enterprise, which, when coupled with other strategies to keep confidential data safe, can help mitigate risk. While it may be more expensive to run an internal contact center, in the long run, if it reduces the chances of a major event (check out Target’s last and very poor financial quarter as an example), it can save money in the long run.