A guide to cybersecurity for globally distributed teams

Globally Distributed Teams

Today, more and more businesses are warming up to the concept of building globally distributed teams. However, one of the primary concerns that some organisations still have regarding offshoring their processes is security. 

Decades of low-quality outsourcing and exaggerated horror stories about offshore security breaches have led to businesses questioning the security of their confidential data with their remote team. And therefore, to mitigate security risks and protect sensitive data, companies must know and implement fundamental cybersecurity measures when working with their teams — offshore or otherwise. 

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Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. And it boils down to this — in cybersecurity, the more systems we secure, the more secure we all are.
Jeh Johnson,
Jeh Johnson,
Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security

In this piece, we’ll walk you through some data security practices that you can implement when working with globally distributed teams

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1. Find the most secure model for your business

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a ‘data security practice’. However, this is one of the most important steps that any business looking to build a globally distributed team must take. 

When you’re considering hiring a global workforce, you have a few different options, such as hiring freelancers, outsourcing your development processes, or building an offshore team

On the one hand, while going the freelancer or outsourcing route may reduce your operational costs, it will also expose your business to significant security risks. And that’s because outsourcing agencies are third-party vendors who hire developers on a contract basis. These developers belong to the outsourcing agency and are not a part of your organisation. The developers you hire will be simultaneously working for other clients, sometimes even your competitors. In such a scenario, ensuring that there is no security breach is next to impossible

Malware is delivered via email

On the other hand, building a dedicated offshore team means hiring a handpicked group of individuals who are 100% part of your organisation. They are permanent, full-time employees who are just like your local team, except that they are based elsewhere. And because they only work for you, implementing and monitoring cybersecurity processes becomes that much easier.

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Human intelligence and comprehension is the best defense against phishing attacks.
Source: Cofense

At The Scalers, we help organisations from across the globe set up their own offshore development team in Bangalore, India. We take care of all the recruitment, administration, legalities, and cybersecurity, so businesses can focus on scaling without worrying about a data breach. 

2. Secure all applications and devices 

When building a globally distributed team, you must ensure that your IT infrastructure is configured correctly to ensure the cybersecurity of operations. Some ways to do this include: 

Encrypting and installing firewalls

Installing security patches and updating the security software on all endpoints provides personal firewall, applicational control, antivirus protection, and antispyware protection. This, in turn, ensures that hackers cannot access IDs and passwords or use official systems as a point of entry to the company’s systems and servers. 

Worldwide information security

Similarly, ensure that all computer and external hard drives are encrypted to protect worker endpoints from unwanted access. Endpoints must also be equipped with remote wipe capabilities so that if the device is lost or stolen, all data can be erased. 

At The Scalers, we encourage our partners to conduct routine checks of encrypted data and invest in advanced firewalls to ensure that their trade secrets are well protected.

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Secure access to all company systems 

When working with a globally distributed team, restrict system access to specific networks or locations. And if any employee desires to log in from a different site, they can do so only once their network/location is authenticated. This mitigates risk and ensures the early detection of a hacking attempt. 

3. Assess and engage safe cloud providers 

Cloud computing is one of the most scalable and easy-to-set-up means of storing and accessing files. However, without implementing the right security measures, files in the cloud can be accessed by those who do not belong to your company. 

Cloud service

The first step is to identify which cloud providers your globally distributed team uses. Apart from enterprise-grade providers, your employees may also be using other free file-sharing cloud services. By identifying these, you can then help them migrate their files to a secure provider. 

It’s also important to review contracts and terms of service to ensure your business retains ownership of all the data uploaded to the cloud and that the cloud provider has no right to it. In fact, even the offshoring partner that you choose to work with will not have access to any confidential information, courtesy of the NDA that is signed when the contract kicks-off. 

Ensure that frequent cloud security audits are performed in compliance with standards such as ISO 27001, PCI, or HIPAA. This is especially important for businesses in sensitive industries, such as finance or health care. 

4. Choosing the right partner

And last, but certainly not the least, choosing the right offshore partner is key. The right partner will not only ensure that all cybersecurity measures are in place but will also tailor security measures based on your business requirements, such as mirroring the protocols you use at home and providing cybersecurity training modules to all your employees. 

We, at The Scalers, conduct background checks on each employee before they join your team and ensure that they sign a comprehensive NDA so that all confidential information is protected. We’ve also gone one step further and implemented state-of-the art on-site security that includes security guards at entry and exit points, CCTV cameras, and a card-access control system with logs. 

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And that concludes our thoughts on leveraging cybersecurity when working with globally distributed teams. All said and done, a security breach could just as likely occur with your local team and that’s why, implementing bulletproof security practices and processes is critical, irrespective of where your team is located. 

If you’re interested in exploring the possibility of building a global development team, feel free to reach out to us by filling out the contact form. One of our senior executives will get in touch with you within 24 hours.