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Information Security in CRM

Customer Relationship Management software is a centralized database of various kinds of information, safe and secure storage of which is of utmost importance to the company, it contains information which is sensitive in nature and needs to be protected.

Information about the company’s customers is saved in form of Customer’s Profile, these profiles form an important part of the database (name, address, contact details, previous conversations, purchases, etc.), and such details are very sensitive in nature as customers privacy is at stake,

Sales team’s from other (mostly competition) organizations are constantly on a lookout for new leads to sell, this database of customer profile is of a lot of value to them and would go to any limits to get access to it, Data digging is hence one of the most common type of cyber crime. Data digging happens when data is stolen from a database, usually done by employees who have access to such database for financial motives, to sell it in the open market to make a quick buck, in some cases competitors hire professional hackers to hack into a system and manipulate, delete or steal data.

Such Unauthorised access and Data Alteration can cause considerable harm to a company; data available on CRM includes Accounting information, Email record, internal chat conversations, list of current tasks, and other such sources of information. All available in a hosted platform on the internet, this is prone to malicious activities like hacking, interception during transit causing un-authorised access and theft of confidential information.

To ensure safe transit and storage of information CRM vendors follow security policies, which provide a combination of role-based and object-based settings to ensure restricted access to information based upon User’s role or Organizational Policy. A user can also be allotted more than one role to provide access to additional information using a combination of 2 or more user policies. Restricting access is good way to ensure that confidential information remains restricted to appropriate users.

For Small and Medium sized businesses with small infrastructure looking at setting up Information security in their organization, following is a quick checklist to keep in mind for a basic setup.

Step 1:- A Team of qualified professionals. Candidates with a good understanding of how the CRM enviournment works and basic security practices.

Step 2:- Infrastructure {Software and Hardware}.

Step 3:- Policies and Procedures, including procedures for Data Backup and Emergency Restore, policies regarding Information Management, Data routing, Storage and Security {Antivirus, firewalls, Encryption, Cryptographic kernels, etc}.

Step 4:- Compliance and Upgrade, once the setup is done team should make sure that the policies are followed and procedures do not have any loopholes,  regular patches and upgrades to discovered problems should be made to avoid any hacking through backdoors.

It is highly advised to follow the above mentioned instructions at organizational level,            although most CRM companies would provide hosted services with standard security technology like Secure Socket Layer (SSl) to form an encrypted link between the browser and the web server, and then store the encrypted data in secure servers.

For companies with bigger size, in terms of employees and core infrastructure it a totally different affair, multiple offices situated nationally or globally requesting real-time collaboration of information, Management and Storage becomes a mammoth task. Such companies usually have a dedicated Information security department, with multiple teams to focus on different aspects, sharing responsibilities.

Such companies generally use CRM systems which are highly customized, and made specifically to fit company requirements,  further customization is added as per policies are formed and problems are discovered.  These customized CRM packages usually employ a mix of different technologies for effective protection and efficient management of data. Here is a checklist of things of major concern.

1)      Storing Customers Profile data.

2)     SSl secured web servers to ensure safe access by Users (employees), which may be using different technologies like PC, mobile devices, PDA and laptops.

3)      Troubleshooting various problems in CRM applications and Making role based users (SQl 7.0), storing this data.

4)     Continuous maintenance of infrastructure (Upgrading, Updating, Patching) and making new policies to ensure safe and secured enviournment.

Choosing a CRM vendor wisely can evade much of the trouble for companies both small and big alike, Information security team should do a thorough analysis of the services offered by vendor and the platform they use, preferably choose a platform which the company workers are already familiar with, if not, then what kind of staff training dose the vendor provide? Security aspects of the service should also be kept in mind, a background check on the vendor can help a great deal in understanding not only the product offered (previous versions, security issues, patches, etc) but also the service support offered by the vendor company in terms of  regular updates and security patches.

NOTE: – Hope you found this information useful; please feel free to leave comments below.

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DISCLAIMER: – IDEAL CRM, blog post is a personal collection of  Research Oriented information, Focusing  on CRM and Customer-Centric Web strategies, comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent views of  coAction.com ,Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This Content may not be used for any other purposes, in any other formats or media. The content on blog is provided on “as-is” basis, coAction.com shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or the use of this blog.

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