Encryption and Mindset: 2 Keys to Securing Modern Communications

You don't have to look far for proof that technology rules our society today. Just a few decades ago, for example, an organization's greatest fear may have been physical theft or robbery, but today a cybersecurity breach tops the list of the C-suite's worst nightmares -- in just about any organization in the world.

Consider the following scenario: a national credit union uses an omnichannel contact center solution for connecting with customers. As a result, it relies on this system to securely collect and store the payment card industry (PCI) data for millions of consumers. One day, cyberattackers break into the system, and the private data of millions of consumers becomes vulnerable. Clearly, today's security concerns have not only shifted in method, but also magnified in scale.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center's (ITRC) 2016 Data Breach Report, the U.S. hit a record high for data breaches last year, with the number soaring to 1,093 -- a 40% increase from 2015. As omnichannel contact centers become more pervasive, ensuring the security of these connections is extremely important.

Keys to securing communications, especially for contact centers, are the use of network encryption and a shift in cultural mindset on what the application of communications security means.

Securing Enterprise Communications

Creating an encrypted network is the first step in securing enterprise communications and contact center channels. Network encryption refers to the process of encrypting or encoding data and messages transmitted or communicated over a computer network. With modern communications solutions spreading in both popularity and usage across all industries today, organizations must prioritize efforts to make sure systems are encrypted at all levels. A deeper level of encryption is becoming necessary for all communications modalities -- whether email, video, or chat -- as well.

As both the threat and skill of hackers continue to escalate, end-to-end encryption of all data is now the new standard in enterprise communications. Evidence of this threat, and further reinforcement of the need for end-to-end encryption, is PwC's recent finding that 32% of companies surveyed have been victims of cybercrime in 2016.

Unfortunately, according to the SANS IT Security Spending Trends 2016 survey, organizations allocated only 63% of total security spending to protecting sensitive data.

Adding to the lack of spending on security, organizations continue to implement BYOD policies to increase the level of engagement for employees and consumers across organizations. However, these policies can lead to more security breaches if they are not properly supported by the network. According to the 2016 BYOD & Mobile Security Spotlight Report from Skycure (a Symantec company), 21% of organizations have traced a data breach to their BYOD programs. Even worse, another 24% have found that employee-owned devices have been connected to malicious Wi-Fi hotspots -- putting the information stored on those devices in direct harm.

Why Cultural Mindset Matters

In conjunction with increasing end-to-end encryption for the rising number of connected devices today, an organization's culture (specifically surrounding contact center use) needs to center around security at every point of the interaction.

As a result, a culture that places importance on security is the other key to locking up communications security. Possessing, and championing, a security-conscious cultural mindset means creating a set of shared practices when using connected devices in any organization. This becomes increasingly important as millennials make up increasing proportions of the workplace today (and in contact centers specifically).

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials (those between the ages of 20 and 35) make up a good portion of the workforce in call centers, accounting for about 40%. This has led to a subsequent increase in personal device use, which in turn has translated into a surging security issue.

For example, a 2014 TrackVia survey found that 70% of millennials admitted to bringing outside applications into an enterprise setting, even in violation of IT policies. Additionally, 60% of those employees weren't concerned about the corporate security ramifications of using personal apps instead of corporate apps -- pointing to a disconnect in industry best practices and those carried out internally as the result of an organization's cultural attitude toward security and employee mindset about their impact on it.

If organizations create a cultural mindset that places security front and center, and focus more time and investment on network encryption, the future of enterprise communications will only continue to grow. Omnichannel communications is the way of the future for contact centers, and ensuring its stability and growth benefits all organizations around the globe.