India's Outsourcers Go A Step Further To Ensure Data Security - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy
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5/23/2006
03:29 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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India's Outsourcers Go A Step Further To Ensure Data Security

A concern often raised about offshore outsourcing is data security. The fear is that it may be hard to keep a handle on sensitive customer records if they're stored in servers in far-flung parts of the world like India. In fact, it seems like there are many more security breaches in the United States than offshore--the most recent case in point being the theft of info on 26 million veterans. Still, India's ou

A concern often raised about offshore outsourcing is data security. The fear is that it may be hard to keep a handle on sensitive customer records if they're stored in servers in far-flung parts of the world like India. In fact, it seems like there are many more security breaches in the United States than offshore--the most recent case in point being the theft of info on 26 million veterans. Still, India's outsourcing industry is working to ensure that the country's reputation as a safe place to do business remains intact.In January, NASSCOM, the group that represents India's outsourcers, launched the National Skills Registry. It's a program through which the country's IT workers can register their personal details and submit to background checks. Among other things, their work histories and credentials are verified. By signing up for the voluntary program, they make themselves more employable because employers immediately know that they are who they say they are.

During a conversation this week, NASSCOM VP Sunil Mehta told me he believes the program "benefits the workers, the employers, and the whole industry."

Mehta admitted, however, that the registry is off to a slow start. Only 3,000 workers have signed up to date. By year's end, Mehta's goal is to have 200,000 workers in the database--so there's a long way to go. But Mehta is confident that the target will be reached. "This will take time to catch on, like everything else," he says.

What's important to remember is that India's National Skills Registry is merely designed to supplement existing security procedures that are common throughout the country's outsourcing industry. In many cases, ITO and BPO workers aren't even allowed to bring a pen or pencil into their work area, and they often don't have the means to print anything. And they're certainly not bringing home laptops containing customers' personal data--an all-too-common practice in the United States. Why is India obsessed with security? Says Mehta, "We know that, for us, the bar will always be higher."

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