How to Preserve Privacy and Security When You Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
Privacy and protection of intellectual property is a big deal to businesses of all sizes and it becomes even more crucial when you outsource remote workers. If not done right, you risk your clients’ and customers’ privacy. You may see this as a reason not to outsource as it is natural to have a worries when embarking into delegating tasks to a virtual assistant.
Data protection is vital and the risks of lost, stolen, or leaked data are very real. Here are steps you can take so you can feel confident when working with virtual assistants who will have access to your company’s digital resources.
Develop Thorough Security Policies
Most virtual assistants understand the general need to be careful with their clients’/employers’ data but if you take data security seriously, you should be able to establish your expectations strictly and flawlessly. If you already have data security policies, make sure you provide the details to anyone that you hire.
Hire Virtual Assistants from a Reputable VA Provider
While there are many freelance virtual assistants in the market, you can essentially be more confident about data security if you employ from a company that provides VAs and manages them within its own rules and regulations. A preferable VA company will already have data security policies and practices in place to protect its clients and their businesses. Additionally, you have the knowledge that your virtual assistant will be under another layer of supervision. They may also offer standard confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements to safeguard your intellectual property. If you prefer to draft your own agreements though, most providers will be happy to be bound by them.
Ideally, all virtual assistants who work for you should be issued with their own, unique user IDs and passwords to reduce the risks involved with shared accounts. Unique user IDs give you the ability to track the activity of each VA and employee (provided you have control over the assignment of user IDs).
It may seem tempting to issue a generic user ID and allow multiple VAs or employees to use it, especially if yours is a small business wanting to find cost-effective ways to run their business. However, there are a number of reasons why we do not recommend it.
- Generic IDs can be shared with someone who shouldn’t have it
- You have barely have visibility of who is accessing your systems, when, or what for
- Shared IDs can give the impression that data security is generally lax, making those who work for you less diligent about protecting sensitive information
Limit Data Access
The applications you use in your business are usually equipped with capabilities to limit access, for example, by way of user-privileges. Use these tools to set appropriate levels of access.
Another way to control your VA’s access to files and documents is to use shareable folders.
- Google Drive
- Media Drive
Access control is especially important if you have virtual assistants working on any of your business websites and social media accounts. You might grant editor, contributor or admin privileges only.
Classify and Control
A lot of business owners recoil at the idea of allowing virtual assistants to have access to really sensitive data such as financial accounts and bank information. However, if the appropriate access controls are put into place, there’s absolutely no reason not to involve VAs in bookkeeping, customer data, or even the payment of bills to make them more efficient. It’s fair to say though, that if you will let VAs access accounts and financial information, you will have to be diligent about identifying the data most at risk of compromise. It’s a good idea to categorize the data generated by your business, placing highly sensitive data (like credit card details) in the highest security-category.
Naturally, don’t entrust anyone with anything but data in your lowest security category right away. As time goes by and trust is developed between you and your VA, let them access data in the next category and so on, until you’re really sure about the VA and feel comfortable giving access to your most sensitive data.
The VA Hub takes data security seriously. We require our VAs to sign data protection documents to safeguard us and our clients, have secure data management tools and have regulations set in case breach occurs. Sign up today and delegate securely.