Outsourcing your company’s IT needs, such as software development, can be a smart business strategy. You gain access to the latest in technology and a pool of highly skilled professionals. But, unlike when you maintain a full-time in-house IT team, you only pay for the services you need when you need them.

Given the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks, along with the risk of intellectual property theft, you must maximize the security of your sensitive data when partnering with an outsourcing provider. Here are some effective steps you can take to do so.

Research Vendors Carefully

Once you’re clear on your company’s IT requirements, research which vendors offer the best fit for you in terms of services, skills, and cost. When you analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your potential choices, make sure you get the answers to the following security-related questions:

What are their specific plans to protect your data?
What is the system and timetable they use to upgrade software and security features?
What is their security policy and how often do they update it to reflect new threats?
How do they follow intellectual property protection laws?
How do they educate their employees on handling and protecting sensitive data?

You should also ask for referrals and reach out to each vendor’s previous clients to find out how they’ve handled security in the past.

Establish Expectations

After you’ve selected an outsourcing provider to work with, set clear expectations surrounding security. Your company’s security policy should already be in place, and you should share it with the vendor.

Use a contract as an effective tool to spell out general expectations, such as how communications and reporting will work, payment details, and project milestones. Also use it to address specific security matters such as confidentiality, patents, intellectual property, warranties, and procedures to follow if a data breach happens on the vendor’s watch.

Another useful security vehicle is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which you can use to protect your ideas, source code, and trade secrets. It should include the following:

Identification of protected data
Length of time covered by the agreement
Relevant national or international laws and regulations
Penalties for breaches (e.g. contract termination, fines)

You may also want to create a non-compete agreement (NCA) to prevent the outsourcer from working with any of your competitors or on any similar projects where they might share your company’s proprietary information.

Request encryption of sensitive data (such as social security numbers, credit cards, and bank accounts) if the outsourcer doesn’t need access to that information to provide your services. Expect the vendor to monitor outbound internet traffic and check emails for leaks.

Establish Security Metrics

Agree on security metrics up front to promote accountability and identify problems to address as your projects continue. It’s best to make them outcome driven, rather than process focused. Metrics might include:

Number of undesirable events in a set period
Amount of time between the undesirable event and its detection
Amount of time between detection and initial response
Amount of time between initial response and neutralization
Number of users with access to sensitive data
Frequency of reviews of systems with vulnerabilities

Create a schedule for reviewing and responding to the agreed-upon metrics.

Comply with Regulations

As cyberattacks have increased, governments and industries have responded with new regulations around the handling of consumer and other sensitive data. You need to be clear on any relevant regulations that apply to your company. To promote ongoing compliance, your contract with the outsource provider should include:

Your company’s countries of origin and operations
A list of relevant national and international regulations
A list of relevant industry-specific regulations

In addition, make sure the outsourcer fulfills ISO/IEC 27000 standards, including requirements on personnel, processes, and IT systems pertaining to information security risk management. You can make that fulfillment a provision in the outsourcing contract.

Closely Monitor Progress

Once your outsourcing partnership begins, there are activities that can help you monitor progress and promote data security:

Conduct a preliminary security audit to identify weaknesses and potential problems.
Conduct regular security audits of applications, databases, and networks to identify and address potential issues and vulnerabilities.
Conduct regular evaluations throughout project development.
Use data watermarking and fingerprinting methods to show the source of any leaks that happen.

Since project expansions can require additional security measures, ensure the vendor is prepared to scale up your security needs when necessary.

In Summary

Outsourcing your IT work enables you to hire professionals trained on the latest tools and methods, bring in experts on specific projects, and pay only for work you need to be done. These benefits make IT outsourcing firms an excellent resource for many companies. But outsourcing can also lead to security problems.

Don’t let security concerns keep you from reaping the benefits. To fully protect your sensitive data while working with an outsourcer, take preventative steps such as carefully researching vendors, establishing security metrics, and closely monitoring progress.

To find out more go to https://www.bairesdev.com/software-development/offshore-software-develop...

Author's Bio: 

Malcom is a tech expert at BairesDev specializing in the software outsourcing industry. He has access to the latest market news and has a keen eye for innovation and what's next for technology businesses.