Is your field service organization prepared for a cyber-attack?

In February 2015, it was discovered that various hackers stole 650 million Eurosfrom over 100 British financial institutions during a two-year span. [1] Six years earlier, in December 2009, Wired already had enough fodder to list the decade’s 10 most dastardly cybercrimes (one dated all the way back to 2000). [2]

Despite increases in IT security over the past 16 years, cyber crime is a very real threat to every business with a technological infrastructure. As field service organizations move more and more data online and connect more devices to better anticipate customer needs, the implications of these larger hacks loom large over companies with little to no protection in place.


Safeguarding your FSO

While our adoption of cloud-based technology has powered amazing growth in field service organizations, these new advances can also leave your business vulnerable to hackers if you’re not properly protecting yourself and your customers.

A well-executed cyber attack is not only costly and embarrassing, but more importantly, it damages customer trust. In a study of 2,000 people conducted by OnePoll, nearly 97 percent said, “they were ‘not at all likely’ or ‘not very likely’ to do business with an organization that had suffered a data breach involving credit or debit card details.” [3]

Reputation and trust can be earned back – albeit, over a number of years – but the immediate loss of revenues from a breach can be devastating. Recent statistics show that 60% of businesses close within six months of a cyber attack. [4]


Fortunately, there are ways to protect your FSO from such attacks:

  1. Consider your entire supply chain: Hackers have a tendency to focus on the weakest link. Because field service organizations often work with different sub-contractors, you’ll want to sweep and monitor your field service management solution system closely. A cyber attack can often occur at a point not specifically within your organization.
  2. Focus on prevention and detection: Many organizations spend a lot of money and resources on prevention, and not nearly enough on detection. While breaches may be a long shot at your FSO, you still need to spend time and effort on developing and testing response plans and protocols that detect possible weaknesses or hacks.
  3. Integrate IT issues into business issues: There’s often a tendency to label anything involving technology as “an IT issue.” When it comes to security, that’s a mistake. The key here is to integrate IT issues into business issues, which is commonly known as service-level management.
  4. Protect as well as comply: While company-wide compliance with data and information policies or processes is important, the larger focus should be on protecting the most important assets of the organization – customer data and proprietary information.


The future of field service

Field service will continue to change drastically in the coming years. The most innovative companies will be using everything from robotics to wearables to augmented reality to provide better customer service and boost ROI. Entire business models, revenue streams, efficiencies of work, and customer interaction models will shift.

That exciting future also presents many of us with new challenges.

As we continue to house more sensitive information in phones, clouds, and connected devices, we’ll also become more vulnerable to breaches and cyber attacks. In a 2014 Pew Research Center poll of 1,642 cyber attack experts and Internet builders, 61 percent believed “that a major attack causing widespread harm (i.e. significant loss of life or property losses/damage/theft) would occur by 2025.” [5]

If your field organization is not fully protected from cyber crime, it is incredibly important that you dedicate time and resources to these issues, protect key assets, and develop an action plan.

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