Call Center Security Best Practices: The Complete Guide

April 30, 2024 16 min read

Jeremiah Zerby

Jeremiah Zerby


If you were to describe customer service in a few words, you’d be right to call it “the first point of customer interaction.”

But as a call center operator, although every call is an opportunity to assist, it also exposes you to potential risks.

Imagine this: Amid a buzz of daily calls and navigating different applications, you’re one spreadsheet or document away from exposing sensitive information — or worse, introducing vulnerabilities. While important to your work, tools like Google Sheets and Docs can become gateways for security breaches if not properly managed.

In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of best practices that call center operators should implement to enhance their security posture.

The Rising Security Concerns in Call Centers

Increased fraud attempts

Call centers, especially those in the financial sector or that offer other forms of financial services, are facing a surge in fraudulent activities.

This is because hackers view your bank’s contact center as a goldmine of information. In fact, the Contact Center Fraud and Security Survey by Pindrop reveals a concerning uptick trend in fraud attempts targeting call centers.

A recent TransUnion survey shed light on this issue, revealing that a staggering 90% of financial industry respondents have observed an increase in fraud attacks on call centers, with some noting that attacks have risen by more than 80% over 2022.

For the most part, these fraud attempts have a single aim — to initiate an account takeover (ATO). To do this, they leverage tactics like social engineering and spoofed phone numbers to deceive call center staff and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information and accounts.

A typical example of this is the case of a fake call center where fraudsters had access to a database containing the personal and financial information of about 500,000 US citizens. With this information, they were able to establish trust and convince their targets of the legitimacy of their fraudulent activities.

💡What is an ATO? An ATO occurs when a cybercriminal gains unauthorized access to a person’s online account, whether their a bank account, email, social media, or any other type of online account.

Data security breaches

It’s not news that call centers handle a significant amount of personally identifiable information (PII), making them prime targets for data breaches.

A notable example of this occurred with Discord, a messaging and video chatting platform. Discord reported that a malicious actor gained access to its systems via a third-party customer service agent, exposing users’ email addresses, customer service queries, and documents sent to Discord.

While Discord provided no further information to determine whether this was an internal or external attack, it did report that the account was now locked.

Meanwhile, it’s important to note that data breaches can occur for several reasons, such as outdated systems, human error, or malicious attacks, all of which can cause reputational damage, regulatory fines, and even lawsuits.

For example, over the last year, the following companies have been on the receiving end of data breaches:

  • Fortra’s GoAnywhere: Hackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Fortra’s GoAnywhere managed file-transfer software early last year, affecting over 130 companies.
  • Software-based phone system 3CX: Hackers targeted 3CX using a supply chain attack to embed malware in software distributed to its clients and end-users.
  • MOVEit Transfer: Hackers accessed the personal data of almost 84 million individuals across more than 2,600 victim organizations, making this breach stand out as one of the most significant last year.

What is PII? PII refers to any data that could be used to identify a specific individual. Examples of PII include, but are not limited to:

Insider threats

Insider threats within organizations pose significant security risks, whether from disgruntled or careless employees. These threats can lead to accidental data leaks, unauthorized access, or even the intentional theft of information, with severe consequences for the organizations involved.

A recent report notes an increase in these incidents, with 74% of organizations acknowledging vulnerability to insider threats.

Compliance issues

Failing to comply with data privacy regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can lead to hefty fines and penalties, further impacting an organization’s finances and reputation.

We can see this in the case of Dish Network’s $280 million fine for violating the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry.

Costs and Damages of Unsecured Call Centers

Financial losses

Unsecured call centers can lead to substantial financial losses for organizations, primarily due to data breaches, fraud, and compliance violations.

These incidents can result in costs of various forms, including direct fines and settlements as well as indirect remediation expenses required to address the aftermath of a security incident.

Here are a few examples of such costs:

  • GDPR fines: Under the GDPR, companies face significant fines for failing to protect consumer data. For instance, in 2023, Meta was fined €1.2 billion by the Irish Data Protection Commission for inadequately protecting European users’ personal data during transfers to the US.
  • HIPAA violations: In the healthcare sector, compliance with HIPAA requirements is crucial. Violations can lead to hefty fines, as we’ve seen with the settlement of $4,750,000 that Montefiore Medical Center agreed to in 2024 for failing to conduct a comprehensive risk analysis, among other compliance issues.

Reputational damage

A single security incident can tarnish a brand’s reputation, which most likely took years to build. News of a data breach or fraud can spread quickly, especially with social media, leading to negative publicity for a brand.

Even worse, a damaged reputation can have lasting effects on customer perceptions, potentially leading to a decline in brand loyalty and customer churn. In support of this claim, reports from Delinea show that 31% of consumers stop using a product after a data breach.

The financial services company Capital One had a data breach incident that involved 100 million of its customers in the US and Canada. The immediate financial repercussions were estimated to be between $100 and $150 million to cover customer notifications, credit monitoring, technology costs, and legal support. However, beyond the tangible costs, the breach inflicted substantial reputational damage, evidenced by a 6% slide in Capital One’s share price following the breach announcement.

Operational disruption

Once a call center detects a security breach, it conducts an intensive investigation to determine its scope and impact.

This process often requires taking certain systems offline, limiting access to essential data, or even halting operations entirely to contain the incident. While necessary for security reasons, such actions can severely impact call center productivity, leading to longer wait times for customers and a backlog of service requests — all of which affect customer experience.

Best Practices for Securing Your Call Center

Data security

The sensitive nature of the data handled, ranging from personal information to payment details, puts several call centers at risk of constantly being targeted for cyber-attacks.

To mitigate these risks, adopting a comprehensive approach to data security is vital. This involves implementing several layers of security measures to protect both the information and infrastructure of the call center.

Implement data encryption

Data encryption is a fundamental security measure that encodes information, making it accessible only to individuals with the decryption key. For call centers, encrypting data both at rest (stored data) and in transit (data being transferred) should be a priority.

  • At rest: Encrypting data at rest protects it against unauthorized access by ensuring that, even if data storage is compromised, the information remains in an unreadable format without the proper encryption keys. Techniques include disk encryption and database encryption.
  • In transit: Encrypting data in transit safeguards it as it moves across networks — be it between internal systems or over the internet.

Enforce data access controls

Data access control simply means selectively restricting an employee’s access to data. It is a critical element in protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access and breaches.

To enforce data access control, implement the following:

  • Principle of least privilege: This principle involves granting employees access only to the information and resources absolutely necessary for their job functions. This minimizes the risk of accidental or malicious data breaches.
  • Role-based access control (RBAC): Implementing RBAC streamlines user permissions management. With this, you assign users roles based on their job requirements, and each role is granted specific access rights. This way, employees can access only what they need.

💡Pro Tip: Conduct regular audits of access controls to ensure that permissions are up to date and align with current job titles and responsibilities. This helps identify discrepancies or unnecessary access privileges that need to be revoked.

Backup data regularly

Data backups are a safety net in the event of data loss or corruption, whether from cyber-attacks, system failures, or human error. Regular and systematic backups ensure that call center operations can resume quickly with minimal loss of data.

  • Backup frequency: The frequency with which data is backed up should align with the call center’s data update rate. For highly dynamic environments, daily or even real-time backups may be necessary.
  • Offsite storage: Storing backups in a location separate from the primary data center adds an additional layer of security. In the event of a physical disaster, data remains safe and recoverable.

Network security

Securing your call center’s network involves taking several measures to prevent unauthorized or malicious access (both internal and external).

To do this, you combine multiple layers of security defenses at the edge and in the network. Each network security layer implements policies and controls. Authorized users gain access to network resources, but malicious actors are blocked from carrying out their exploits.

Segment your network

Network segmentation involves dividing a larger network into smaller, distinct subnetworks or segments. This practice is important for call centers for several reasons, including:

  • Reduced attack surface: By separating the call center network from the rest of the organization’s networks, you limit the potential spread of malicious activities. If one segment is compromised, segmentation can help contain the breach, preventing it from proliferating across your entire network.
  • Improved performance: By isolating the call center traffic, you can ensure that critical communications are prioritized and uninterrupted. Segmentation can also improve network performance by reducing congestion.
  • Enhanced monitoring and control: By segmenting networks, more granular monitoring and control over traffic is possible. This enables you to more quickly identify and mitigate suspicious activities.

💡Pro tip: Implementing protocols such as Transport Layer Security ensures that data exchanged between clients and your call center is safe from eavesdropping or interception.

Implement firewalls and intrusion detection systems

Firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) are essential tools to have in your network security toolbox. They serve as the first line of defense against potential cyber threats.

  • Firewalls: These act as a barrier between your secure internal network and untrusted external networks, such as the internet. A firewall can be software-based, hardware-based, or both, and it works by filtering incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organization’s security policies.
  • IDS: IDSs monitor network traffic for suspicious activities and potential threats. They can detect malicious activities like security policy violations, malware, and unauthorized system access. They then alert network administrators to suspicious patterns, enabling them to act immediately against potential threats.

Keep software up to date

Software vulnerabilities are a common entry point for cyber threats. Maintaining the latest versions of all software, including operating systems, applications, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, is critical to securing your call center’s network.

  • Regular updates and patches: Developers frequently release software updates and patches to address vulnerabilities and enhance security features. Regularly applying these updates ensures that your systems are protected against known vulnerabilities.
  • Automated patch management: Considering the amount of software that call centers may use, implementing automated patch management tools can help streamline the process of updating software across all systems within the call center, ensuring the timely application of critical security patches.

User security

This aspect of security focuses on safeguarding user identities, credentials, and data from unauthorized access, theft, and misuse.

It involves a combination of enforcing strong authentication measures, educating users about security risks, and monitoring activities to prevent or respond to security incidents.

Here’s a closer look at how call centers can implement effective user security measures:

Enforce strong password policies

The first line of defense in user security is often the strength and management of passwords. Implementing and enforcing strong password policies can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

  • Strong password creation: Require users to create passwords that are complex and difficult to guess. This typically means that passwords should have a minimum length and include numbers, symbols, and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Regular password changes: Encourage or mandate regular password updates, such as every 60 or 90 days, to limit the risk of compromised passwords being used to gain unauthorized access.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA adds an additional layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to access their accounts. This can include what they know (password), what they have (a security token or a smartphone app), or what they are (biometrics).
  • Single sign-on (SSO): SSO allows users to log in once and gain access to multiple systems without being prompted to log in again. SSO can simplify the user experience while maintaining high-security standards, especially when combined with MFA.

Educate employees on security best practices

Human error remains one of the largest vulnerabilities in cybersecurity.

Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report found that the human element was involved in about three-quarters of all analyzed breaches.

Tech Xplore further supports this by stating that more than 90% of cyberattacks are made possible by human error, highlighting the critical need for user education. Educating call center agents and other employees on security best practices is the best approach to mitigating this risk.

  • Regular training: Conduct regular training sessions to keep employees informed about the latest security threats and best practices. This includes identifying phishing attempts, managing sensitive customer data, and understanding the importance of security policies. 
  • Social engineering awareness: Train employees to recognize social engineering attacks, such as phishing or pretexting, that manipulate individuals into breaking normal security procedures.
  • Simulated attacks: Consider conducting simulated phishing exercises to test employees’ vigilance and provide practical learning opportunities based on their responses.

Monitor user activity

Continuous monitoring of user activity within your systems can help quickly identify and mitigate suspicious behavior, potentially preventing a security breach.

  • Automated monitoring tools: Implement tools that automatically log and analyze user activities, flagging actions that deviate from normal patterns.
  • Anomaly detection: Use anomaly detection systems to identify unusual actions, such as accessing high volumes of data or attempting to access restricted areas, which could indicate a security threat.
  • Incident-response plan: Have a clear incident-response plan in place so that if suspicious activity is detected, your team can act swiftly to investigate and prevent any potential damage.

💡Pro Tip: Nextiva offers the most flexible and scalable enterprise-grade contact center solution.


Compliance in the context of call center operations refers to meeting legal and regulatory standards for data privacy and security. These standards vary by region and industry but share the common goal of protecting consumer information and ensuring ethical business practices.

Identify relevant data privacy regulations

Data privacy regulations are designed to protect personal information but vary significantly across jurisdictions and sectors. Understanding and complying with these regulations is fundamental to operating a call center legally and ethically.

  • HIPAA: HIPAA sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data in the US. Any call center handling healthcare information must ensure HIPAA compliance.
  • GDPR: The GDPR is a regulation in the European Union (EU) law on data protection and privacy that covers the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. Call centers handling data of EU citizens, regardless of the call center’s location, need to comply with GDPR.
  • Other regulations: Other regulations, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), might also apply, depending on the geographical location and the nature of the data being handled.

What’s PCI DSS? PCI DSS is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. 

Implement data breach response procedures

A data breach can have significant legal, financial, and reputational consequences. Having a response plan in place helps minimize the impact of a breach.

  • Incident response plan: This plan should outline the steps to take immediately after discovering a breach, including containing it, assessing its impact, and beginning the recovery process.
  • Notification procedures: Regulations like the GDPR and HIPAA have strict notification requirements. Your plan should include protocols for notifying regulatory authorities and affected individuals within the required timelines.
  • Continuous improvement: A post-breach analysis should be conducted after a breach is addressed to identify what went wrong and how similar incidents can be prevented in the future. Use the following insights to strengthen your security posture.

Regularly review and update your security policies and procedures

Regular reviews of your security policies and compliance procedures ensure they remain effective and aligned with current laws.

  • Scheduled reviews: Establish a regular schedule for reviewing and updating security policies, procedures, and compliance measures. This could be annually or more frequently, depending on the nature of the data you handle and the regulatory environment.
  • Stay informed: Be aware of changes in data protection laws and cybersecurity trends. Regulatory bodies often provide updates and guidance that can help you remain compliant.
  • Security awareness and training: Ensure that all employees, especially those who handle sensitive customer information, are regularly trained on the latest compliance requirements and security best practices.

Open-Source Call Center vs. Choosing an Enterprise Call Center Provider

When it comes to managing customer interactions, businesses face a tough decision: whether to use a free, open-source call center platform or an enterprise call center provider. This choice carries significant implications for security, cost, compliance, and operational complexity.

Risks of a DIY call center software

Weaker security posture

Building and operating your own call center means taking on the responsibility of securing the platform. This is a daunting task that requires specialized knowledge and constant vigilance. 

Enterprise call center providers, on the other hand, typically have dedicated security teams whose sole focus is to protect the platform and its data. These teams are equipped with the expertise and tools needed to prevent and stop cyber threats, monitor for suspicious activities, and implement best practices in cybersecurity.

Without this level of expertise, your self-managed call center might be more susceptible to breaches and cyber attacks, potentially compromising customer trust and data.

Increased technical complexity

Integrating security solutions in-house so that they work seamlessly together is a complex process. Each additional solution or layer of security can introduce new vulnerabilities, especially if they’re not properly configured or maintained. This complexity increases the risk of security loopholes, making the system harder to manage.

Compliance hassles

This is perhaps the biggest challenge. Data privacy regulations like the GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA impose strict rules on how customer data should be handled and protected.

Ensuring compliance with these and other regulations is a huge responsibility when operating your own call center. This involves continuous monitoring, reporting, and updating practices to align with legal requirements.

Meanwhile, enterprise call center providers often have dedicated compliance teams and standardized processes designed to meet these regulations, reducing the burden on your shoulders.

Unexpected maintenance burdens

The responsibility of updating, patching, and maintaining an open-source call center falls entirely on you.

This is a continuous effort that requires dedicated resources to ensure the system remains operational and secure. Failing to keep up with maintenance tasks can leave your system vulnerable to exploitation.

In contrast, an enterprise CCaaS provider manages these tasks on behalf of its clients, ensuring that the platform remains up-to-date and secure without additional effort from the client’s side.

Potentially higher cost

While the initial idea of building your own call center might seem cost-effective, the long-term financial implications are high.

For example, the costs associated with development, ongoing maintenance, security, and compliance can accumulate quickly, making it a less viable option for many businesses.

Furthermore, the hidden costs of potential data breaches or compliance violations can be huge. Enterprise call center providers spread these costs across their client base, often offering more predictable pricing models.

What does enterprise call center software offer?

Opting for an enterprise call center provider offers several benefits, including preventing many of the challenges associated with managing a call center in-house.

These platforms are designed with security, compliance, and operational efficiency in mind, offering a compelling case for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Here’s a closer look at the advantages of choosing an enterprise call center platform. 

Proven security infrastructure

Enterprise call center providers invest heavily in security infrastructure and expertise. They employ dedicated teams whose sole focus is to ensure the platform remains secure against emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

This specialization in security helps safeguard sensitive data and ensures that the platform adheres to the latest compliance standards.

The benefit here is twofold: robust protection against data breaches and a compliance-ready posture that shields your business from potential fines and legal complications.

Simplified management

Managing a call center operation involves coordinating multiple tasks and systems, from customer interaction channels to backend databases.

Enterprise call center platforms simplify this complexity by offering pre-integrated security features and tools designed for seamless operation. This integration reduces the time and effort required to manage the system, allowing businesses to focus on strategic operations rather than wasting time on technical details.

Compliance support

Data privacy regulations constantly evolve, posing a challenge for businesses to remain compliant.

Enterprise call center platforms provide built-in compliance support, helping businesses comply with regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA.

This support comprises everything from data handling and storage practices to consent management and data subject rights fulfillment. Leveraging the provider’s expertise in these areas can help reduce the risk of compliance violations.

Reduced maintenance

The responsibility of maintaining the call center infrastructure, including the execution of updates and patches, lies with the provider.

This arrangement minimizes the maintenance workload for businesses, ensuring the platform remains up-to-date with the latest security measures and feature enhancements without requiring direct intervention.

It also eliminates the need for a dedicated in-house team to manage these tasks, freeing up resources for other critical business functions.

Lower operating costs

While the upfront costs of an enterprise call center solution might seem high, it can be more cost-effective in the long run.

This cost efficiency comes from the reduced need for in-house development, maintenance, and security management. Whether you opt for on-premises servers or private clouds, you won’t need to build or secure them.

Moreover, by outsourcing these complex and resource-intensive tasks, businesses can avoid the indirect costs associated with security breaches and compliance violations, making it a prudent decision.

Nextiva: An Enterprise Call Center You Can Trust

Nextiva provides an enterprise contact center platform built to fit your business with three core offerings:

Enterprise phone service

Nextiva’s enterprise VoIP phone system comes loaded with advanced features, such as auto-attendant, call forwarding, voicemail, and conference calling, and seamlessly integrates with popular business applications, making it easy to consolidate all business communications in one place.

Nextiva call flow chart

Nextiva employs robust security measures and monitors its networks 24/7 to protect against unauthorized access and data breaches. This active monitoring also contributes to its resilient 99.999% network uptime, made possible by Nextiva’s redundant data centers.

Not ready for UCaaS? Enterprise-grade SIP trunking from Nextiva provides call recording and toll-free and local phone numbers and ensures compatibility with on-premises or cloud-based PBXs. See all features.

Cloud call center solution

Nextiva’s cloud call center empowers your team to make and receive a high volume of calls with the right degree of control that supervisors want. It also doesn’t require any third-party hosting or technical staff to set up.

With its carrier-grade data centers and impressive uptime, you’ll never miss a beat with your customers. Nextiva built one of the world’s most reliable enterprise-ready voice networks.

Some of its call center features include:

  • Interactive voice response (IVR): Send incoming calls to the right call center agents. Set up your IVR any way you want.
  • Call recording: Record, pause, and listen to customer interactions at any time.
  • Automatic call distribution: Distribute calls based on business hours, technical support level, IVR options, and more.
  • VoIP phone numbers: Get local and toll-free numbers or port your existing phone numbers.
  • Call routing: Manage customer interactions like a pro. Don’t let your customers repeat requests.
  • Dashboards and reporting. Get access to 40+ advanced features and reports to measure your VoIP call center efficiency. 

Enterprise SIP trunking

Nextiva offers you PBX with SIP trunking. You also get carrier-grade PSTN connectivity with easy setup and no code required.

Features include:

  • Online management: Manage your credentials, direct-dial numbers, and more from a web-based admin portal. Goodbye, terminal.
  • Fraud mitigation: Thwart abuse and fraud in a few clicks. Nextiva will let you know if we see unusual call activity.
  • Enhanced 911 (E911): Ensure users are safe with turnkey E911 functionality. Supports physical location for public safety operators.

Automatic failover: Direct calls to another destination with cloud connectivity. If your PBX goes offline, no problem. 

  • Detailed call records: Research call detail records. Administrators can view CDRs securely and in minutes.
  • Rapid setup: Deploy the same day without any coding with ready-to-use SIP trunks.

Why enterprise businesses love Nextiva

  • Proven reliability: Each data center is equipped with uninterruptible power sources with 99.999% uptime and zero reported outages in 2019 and 2020. 
  • Highly scalable: Scaling any part of your business phone system is easy. Add phone numbers, new users, or entire new locations from your admin web portal.
  • Easy to deploy: Installation is often as easy as configuring your account from a web portal, plugging desk phone hardware into the internet, and downloading the mobile app.
  • Award-winning support: Rated #1 on Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, G2, and GetVoIP, Nextiva is also a Stevie® Award winner for Sales & Customer Service.
  • Rapid expert training: Our trainers can provide on-premises, 1:1, or remote training with webinars to help you get the most out of your unified communications solution.

Level up your contact center.

Equip your team with the industry’s best call center software.

Jeremiah Zerby


Jeremiah Zerby

Jeremiah Zerby is a marketing specialist at Nextiva. He spent three years on the front lines of technical support, troubleshooting internet and VoIP topics. He moved forward into the technical writing and content creation space. He’s helped set up hundreds of businesses and advised thousands of people with their cloud communications.

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