8 Ways to Boost Your Customer Service Security

Illustrator: Adan Augusto
how to boost customer service security

Data security — including customer service security — is hot these days. You’ve likely heard about the recent AT&T data leak victimizing 7.6 million customers. That is just one of many data breach headlines, and you can expect more. The shift to digitization comes with opportunities for businesses and, unfortunately, cybercriminals.

Customer service platforms are primary locations where companies hold and manage customer information, making them a prime target for hackers. Therefore, customer service security must be a top security priority for businesses. Why? Customer trust.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great your product or service is. If you can’t keep customer data safe, they will stop using it.

This article will review common security attacks and explore eight countermeasures to secure customer service systems, maintain customer trust, and boost business success.

What is Customer Service Security?

Customer service security refers to processes and strategies that protect sensitive customer information from unauthorized access. These are personally identifiable information such as full name, social security number, phone number, and email address. Customer service security also ensures data privacy compliance during personalized customer interactions.

To protect customer data, you must know the various techniques hackers use to gain access to customer service systems. These include the following cyberattack methods:

  • Social engineering: Hackers use emotional manipulation to trick victims into sharing personal information. They impersonate customers, government agencies, or fellow employees and use phishing (email) or vishing (voice) scams to achieve this. For example, a hacker impersonating internal IT staff may send an email with a link for customer service teams to update their login credentials. The hackers then gain access to the customer service team’s accounts and, by extension, customer data.
  • System vulnerabilities: Hackers access IT networks through unsecured channels (e.g., public WiFi), gaining access to devices connected to those networks.
  • Digital compromise: Hackers access devices through spyware, malware, or password hacking tactics such as brute force attacks or algorithms to identify password combinations.
  • Physical compromise: refers to the theft of physical devices (hard drives, laptops, smartphones) containing sensitive information. It can also mean unauthorized access to workstations or data storage facilities.

Note that not all potential security issues are outside jobs. Internal employees might leak customer data through malicious action (think disgruntled workers) or non-compliance. What’s worse is statistics show that 52% of businesses find it difficult to detect insider threats.

8 Ways to Increase Customer Service Security

The nature of customer service jobs makes them vulnerable to social engineering attacks. For instance, businesses hire support teams for customer service skills like empathy. Coupled with the pressure to resolve customer issues quickly, agents may overlook warning signs that can lead to data breaches. Criminals also have a high chance of convincing inexperienced customer service reps to reveal sensitive customer information.

That said, here are eight ways to boost customer service security.

1. Train Employees on Information Security

You can’t stop a potential security threat if you don’t know what one looks like.

Check out the email below. It claims that the user’s password has been changed. It provides details of the security breach (location, device, browser, and IP address) and steps to resolve the issue.

Can you tell if it’s genuine or fake?


At first glance, the email appears legitimate. It uses previously collected information (i.e., email address) to gain the victim’s trust. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the sender’s address is not from a Microsoft domain. Hackers rely on the panic an unauthorized account action causes to push the victim to act without thinking.

Other cyber attacks aren’t as easy to spot. Unless all staff members know what every employee in the company sounds like, they’ll likely fall for a voice phishing scam without the proper training. Worse, tactics like password hacking or gaining backdoor access happen behind the scenes. You usually discover the threat after the damage occurs, if at all.

That’s why it’s paramount to train your staff–including your customer service team–on information security. Top cybersecurity courses teach fundamental and advanced principles of cybersecurity. These include security best practices, incident report protocols, and compliance frameworks. You can enroll your staff in these courses so they’ll know what warning signs to look out for and what to do should a breach take place.

Moreover, when customer service teams understand their legal obligation to protect customer data, they are less tempted to work around the checks and balances to provide outstanding customer service.

2. Remove Unnecessary Access

Prevention is better than cure. The simplest way to prevent unauthorized data access is to minimize the number of entry points.

If all 72 employees at your company have the same access to customer information, that’s 72 potential access points for cybercriminals. So, ask yourself questions like, ‘Does the payroll manager need access to the customer relationship management (CRM) software you use?’ If the answer is no, then limit their access to the platform.

Role-based controls limit data access to relevant and authorized users. Every user has access to the data required to perform their job function.

User role permission dashboard

In this example, the administrator can manage subscription plans but doesn’t have access to customer payment information.

Fewer access points mean you can identify and address fraudulent events sooner.

3. Remind Clients of Safe Communication Practices

Customers care about cybersecurity. According to a PWC report, 86% of customers expect companies to protect their data. The more proactive, the better.

One way to demonstrate your commitment to customer service security is by educating customers on safe lines of communication. 

For instance, you can tell customers that your company only contacts them through official phone numbers and doesn’t use SMS or messaging apps. Be sure to list all official channels and acceptable types of communications for each one. 

Some companies already send tips instructing customers to avoid scams by not disclosing passwords or credit card details. At the same time, their employees only verify customer accounts without requesting personal information. For example, if a customer calls to reset a banking app login, the agent may verify identity using transaction history instead of account number.

4. Build Security into Overall Customer Service Systems

We know customers are concerned about data privacy. Yet, many organizations don’t consider data security a part of excellent customer service. 

Business owners believe digital threats do more to a brand’s reputation than a time-consuming authentication process, and they’re correct. But you don’t have to sacrifice customer convenience and positive experiences for security. You can have both.

It starts with cultivating a culture of security awareness that values and commits to protecting customer data. You achieve this with the information security training mentioned above, cybersecurity newsletters, and frequent collaborations with digital security teams for audits of business systems, including your overall customer service framework.

Next, security must be aligned with the customer journey by tailoring security measures to customer personas and developing attacker journey maps. These allow you to customize customer identity and access management (CIAM) controls based on the customer and hacker behaviors. 

For example, you could have a low threshold for attempted logins for critical users, locking the account after a certain number of failed logins. 

5. Leverage Specific Security Features in Customer Service Tools

Earlier, we mentioned how access controls minimize who sees what information. While limiting entry points is an effective strategy, determined hackers eventually identify and target privileged users.

Privileged users like customer service managers hold the keys to your business. They can change software or network configurations, create and modify user accounts, install or update software, and access sensitive data.

These users need additional layers of protection. One such layer is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Encourage them to enable it in the customer service tools they use.

MFA is a security feature that requires multiple and independent ways to verify a user’s identity. It makes unauthorized access difficult by asking users to answer security questions or provide OTP security codes and biometric authentication.

OTP security code feature as part of multi-factor authentication

Just to show you how authentication works, let’s look at how Microsoft does it. This Microsoft authenticator prompts the user to enter the code sent to their mobile device. It offers additional ways to verify identity if the user doesn’t have their smartphone with them.

Another way to secure your data—both personal and company data, including your customers’–-is through encryption. 

Make sure you choose email service providers like Protonmail that offer end-to-end encryption. This way, emails are secure on their journey from the sender to the recipient. 

Your contact center software solution should also offer this crucial security feature. Look for a platform with Transport Layer Security and Secure Real-Time Transport Protection encryption that covers all endpoints to ensure privacy and prevent interception.

6. Enable Automatic Password Resetting

Passwords are the first line of defense against cyberattacks. However, many of us are guilty of the “set it and forget it” mentality. We create easy-to-remember passwords or use the same password for multiple accounts. That’s a hacker’s dream.

Cybersecurity experts recommend changing passwords every two to three months. It reduces the length of exposure to potential threats and limits the utility of stolen passwords. Of course, you must change the password immediately after a data leak or hacking event.

However, changing passwords regularly has a drawback. They are difficult to remember, so people choose simple combinations or write them down on sticky notes. Enter password automation.

Password management tools like 1Password or Google’s Password Manager generate, store, and autofill passwords. This reduces user frustration and increases productivity. Moreover, enhanced security is an essential component of password resetting software.

First, they generate random and complex passwords that your customer service staff doesn’t have to remember to gain access to the business's social media accounts or other relevant customer service platforms. The system stores and manages all passwords and automatically enters them on the login page. This autofill function thwarts attacks like keystroke logging by removing the need to input passwords manually.

Second, password automation solutions come with encryption features. So, even if hackers steal these passwords, they can’t read them without the encryption key.

7. Develop a Security Plan

The sad truth is that cyberattacks are an eventuality, not a probability. According to Check Point’s 2023 Cyber Security Report, global cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022.

Preparation is half the battle. You need a comprehensive security plan to respond quickly and decisively to customer data breaches.

A cybersecurity plan is a written document outlining security procedures, policies, and responses to cyber threats to your business as a whole.

See the example below.

Sample cyber security plan

The plan describes possible or encountered threats, rates their risk, identifies responsible personnel, and outlines actions to take.

Here’s how to create an effective customer service security plan.

  • Conduct a risk assessment: This involves identifying physical assets and threats, classifying data (sensitive vs non-sensitive), and ranking potential risks (low, medium, high).
  • Define your goals: Include risk mitigation, asset protection, business continuity, regulatory compliance, building customer trust, and effective incident response.
  • Select a security framework: Based on your organization, you can implement frameworks such as ISO 27001 (International Standardization Organization), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
  • Create an incident response plan: These are step-by-step instructions on responding to various cyber threats, including data loss and service disruptions.
  • Evaluate the security plan: Monitor and test your plan to see how well it meets the outlined goals.
  • Review security policies: Revise outdated guidelines to cover new technologies and address emerging generative AI risks, such as data privacy and industry/regulatory compliance.

The incident response plan is one of three security breach protocols that help mitigate damage from a cyberattack. It would help if you also had business continuity and recovery plans.

The business continuity plan describes what you should do to minimize the attack's impact on operations. It includes identifying critical operations and resources required to keep the business running.

The recovery plan outlines what you need to return to business as usual. It includes an analysis of the event (causes, consequences, and impact) and steps to remove identified threats and vulnerabilities.

8. Keep Customer Service Teams Informed of Potential Breach Events 

Even with processes and tools working as they should, you don’t want customer service teams becoming complacent.

Cybercriminals play a constant game of cat and mouse. Whenever a business introduces new digital security services or features, hackers work to overcome them. That causes companies to find other ways to prevent data breaches, which hackers try to break. It goes on and on.

Keep customer service teams updated on near-miss events. Explain the nature of the attempted breach and reiterate security lessons from customer service training sessions. You can also prepare them for future changes you might make to improve security as a result.

When you run penetration tests, inform employees, including your customer service staff, when they start and end. Penetration tests simulate cyber attacks to flush out vulnerabilities. You don’t want vigilant staff reporting irregularities when there aren't any. Conversely, a situation where people assume suspicious activities are internal tests isn’t ideal.


Even though multiple departments handle and store customer data, customer service security should be a top priority for business. It is a high-risk area, and the consequences of failure include a permanent loss of consumer trust.

However, consumer data protection isn’t just a way to manage brand reputation. It is a legal requirement and comes with severe financial implications. So, the better your business understands security risks, the less likely it will fall victim to malicious actors.

We shared eight security tactics to improve security in customer service to help you safeguard against cyber threats. The key takeaway is you should foster a culture of security awareness through education and best practices.

While you can’t prevent every cyberattack, adopting these measures strengthens your customer service security and ensures compliance with local and international regulations.