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Hybrid working doesn’t mean sacrificing payment security – A guest blog by Key IVR

Just when you thought the nation couldn’t get more excited for pints in the Pub Garden, the new easing of restrictions this week has meant that many indoor-based organisations, including the entire hospitality and leisure sector, can take that hesitant step back to normality.

And I mean “normality” in the loosest of terms. Let’s call it a step forward in the right direction. A cautious creep forward with optimism and hope, or whatever the media chooses to call it. There is undeniably an air of positivity, which is rather refreshing considering the rollercoaster of 2020 and early 2021.

For businesses that have been operating over the past year, the mad rush of getting staff set up working from home quickly changed to keeping the business operating virtually. Accessibility to the right systems was vital, supplying everyone with the appropriate tools to do the job in the same way they would have in the office. I don’t think I’d be alone in knowing quite a few stressed IT managers who have been scrambling together trying to keep things working and connected. I raise a pint to you all.

So, has the experience changed how your business will work going forward?

We’ve been speaking to many clients over the past few months and there’s been some silver linings to lockdown, both for employee morale and a cost-saving angle. After all, there’s nothing like a national lockdown to put full-time working-from-home to the test!

As expected, some organisations are starting to return to the office, but on a more staggered basis. Either a couple of days a week or in certain groups, with regular testing to keep the workplace safe. And because of this hybrid working model, quite a few have either completely changed (or are in the process of transitioning) their systems and software they use that relied on the user being “on-site” at the office.

One of those areas was payment security. We’ve had some very concerned organisations approach us in the past 12 months, panicking about how they can keep their customers safe when taking credit or debit card details over the phone with agents. Although it still has its risks, asking customers to read out sensitive payment details when the agent is in the office can be controlled a lot more than if they’re working from home.

How the data is transmitted and stored becomes very fragmented and starts to put real strain on the security of the corporate network. This in turn creates vulnerabilities and opportunities to exploit that data, potentially resulting in a breach of customer information. A Major breach could land you with a huge fine from industry regulators, financial losses and a damaged reputation.

Because of this, we’ve been working with a lot of security stakeholders, mapping out the flow of voice data, how information travels across devices, infrastructure and who gets to see what. IT have been very proud of the Firewalls and rapid working-from-home setups in place. It’s been highly impressive. But, when we’ve begun to question why the sensitive information even has to reach their organisation, their ears prick up. For some, it hadn’t been a consideration that they could create a safe environment within their corporate network that is free from highly sensitive information. This can be done by processing it externally and providing the agent with harmless data that doesn’t run the risk of being exposed or exploited – either intentionally or unintentionally.

But if everyone is going back to the office, and everything is going back to “normal” – why does it matter?

Firstly, taking sensitive information out of your corporate network is a must, regardless of where your agents are based. It makes sense to be secured to the highest level of industry standard.

Secondly, future-proof yourself. No one has a crystal ball, so making that worthwhile change now will bring benefits immediately, and then it’s flexible enough to carry on no matter what happens. Additionally, how we work going forward may change to reflect the expectations of younger and rising talent. The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) surveyed 2,000 office workers across the country in March 2021. They found that the demand for hybrid working was particularly prevalent in the younger demographic. Two-thirds (66%) of 18-24-year-olds admitted that not being offered flexible work patterns would cause them to look for a new job.

Our belief is pretty simple. You can decide how you want your business to operate, 5 days in the office, hybrid or fully WFH – I think it pays to be flexible at this time, so you can find the best fit for you. But, when it comes to protecting your customer’s sensitive payment data, we’re one of the best people to talk to, and we’re not afraid to ask why you’re doing things a certain way if it doesn’t benefit you.

If there is a way to future-proof and secure your business no matter what 2021 throws at you, wouldn’t you take it?

Mark Kelly
Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)

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