February 9, 2024 | CRA Advice

Don't Gamble with Sensitive Data: Choose a Data Partner Who Prioritizes Security

Note: This is part of a blog series about the critical role a background screening data provider plays in the success of your organization and the importance of thoroughly evaluating key areas of your potential partners. In this blog, Nick Kelland, InformData’s Chief Technology Officer, shares his insights on the importance of data security protocols.

Your clients entrust you with their data, a responsibility that cannot be overstated given the often highly sensitive nature of the information involved. However, it's essential to recognize that the security burden does not fall solely on your shoulders. Your data partners also bear a significant responsibility for ensuring data security. Therefore, choosing the right provider is paramount in safeguarding your and your clients’ data.

Imagine these nightmare scenarios: a ransomware attack cripples your systems, hindering core business functions and causing major business disruptions. Or a data breach exposes sensitive information to the world, impacting every facet of your organization and resulting in a reputational earthquake. These scenarios are not just nightmares; they are real threats that can crush your business and erode the trust you've built with your clients. That's why choosing the right background screening data partner is crucial - one who shares your commitment to data security and implements robust measures to safeguard sensitive Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and criminal history information.

The Dangers of Inadequate Data Security Measures

The digital landscape is fraught with escalating threats. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent (for example, the recent incidents in Fulton County, Georgia, and Kansas), while the exponential growth of collected data fuels the potential for devastating breaches. For Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) and background screening, robust cybersecurity and data security measures are essential. Partnering with a data provider that lacks rigorous security protocols is like inviting risk into your ecosystem. It's a gamble with immense consequences for your clients, reputation, and business.

To add an extra layer to the equation - remember our previous blog highlighting the importance of researcher testing? It applies here, too. Your data provider's researchers, especially third-party vendors, also need robust security measures in place. Remember, a security lapse anywhere in the chain exposes you. That's why our Direct-Source methodology shines – fewer layers mean fewer hands and minimized security risks.

Consider this example that my colleague Bill Wilder shared with me:

Some courthouses don’t allow electronic devices or perhaps don’t have cell service, so court runners must write the information down to enter it into their laptops later. While Bill was visiting one of these courthouses, he noticed a stack of papers on a car dashboard in the parking lot. He recognized the papers as a form template used to capture the case information discovered at the court. So, there it was, clear as day – he could see the list of orders containing names and DOBs that needed to be run at the court.

This example of sensitive data being casually displayed for anyone to see is a stark reminder that not all providers and vendors prioritize security. Focusing on situations and risks like this is important to prevent security breaches. Prioritize partnering with a provider with robust processes in place to safeguard your business and ensure the privacy and safety of individuals whose information you handle.

The InformData Difference

At InformData, we understand that data security is paramount. We don’t just claim it; we live it with end-to-end security measures that go above and beyond.

  • SOC 2 Attestation: SOC 2 is a framework for evaluating and auditing the controls related to the security, availability, process integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data handled by service organizations. Thanks to this certification, our information security management system meets the highest industry standards.
  • NIST Security Framework: NIST Cybersecurity and Risk Management Frameworks drive our security posture, controls, and culture. Implementation and adherence to these frameworks align InformData with the standards established in the Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program for handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).
  • Direct-Source Data® Methodology: Eliminating the layers between CRAs and the data they need helps mitigate risk and improve security. By removing unnecessary layers, we minimize data breach points and have more control over the security of our network and data.

If you’re interested in learning more about our cybersecurity measures and Direct-Source Data procedures that can keep your CRA and your data secure, let’s talk!

Evaluate Your Data Provider

Understanding the potential dangers of working with background screening data providers lacking stringent cybersecurity measures is vital. Individuals and organizations can safeguard sensitive information, maintain trust with their clients, and thrive in an increasingly digital world by choosing a provider with robust security practices.

So, before partnering with a data provider, properly evaluate whether they fit the bill. Ask critical questions about their security practices: Do they implement industry-standard encryption protocols? Are regular security audits conducted and systems updated? Do they comply with relevant data protection regulations? It’s helpful to check if they have security-related processes like SOC 2 that indicate a strong commitment to security. And the cherry on top – ask if they’re willing to share details about their data security measures. Reliable providers should be transparent about their security protocols and show their dedication to protecting customer data and maintaining the highest security standards.

Protecting your data is not just smart; it's essential. Choose a partner who shares your commitment to security so you can mitigate risk, secure your clients' trust, and ensure the well-being of your business.

P.S. Remember, data security is an ongoing journey, not a destination. Regularly assess your own practices and stay informed about evolving threats to ensure the best possible protection.

Up Next: In the next part of this weekly blog series, Vince Brodt, InformData’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Strategic Accounts, will explore the importance of your data provider having a robust customer service team.

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