Is crowdsourcing a safe option for processing sensitive information?


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It seems counterintuitive: how could it be safe to send sensitive customer information to a large crowd of unknown individuals all over the world? In fact, when done correctly, crowdsourcing is actually safer than having your employees work with this kind of data.

De-risking sensitive data

Giving any one employee access to a document with sensitive customer information is a data privacy risk. Separate sensitive information from context, however, and it’s no longer sensitive. At ScaleHub, we have a few different methods for removing data from context before sending it to the crowd:

  • Snippeting: After extracting information from a document, we break apart the various bits of information into pieces. This not only breaks the larger task of typing form data into many smaller tasks that crowd contributors can work on simultaneously, but also ensures the security of your customers’ data because crowd contributors only see a part of the document—never the whole.
  • Scrambling: For highly sensitive information like bank account or Tax ID numbers, we take it a step further by scrambling the individual characters in a snippet.

Obviously, there are situations in which context matters. To process an insurance claim, for example, you need to see documents in their entirety. The right crowdsourcing solution will offer the flexibility to allow for this as well.

Data security challenges of the work-from-home model

The Covid-19 pandemic forced even industries traditionally reliant on a combination of brick-and-mortar facilities and human labor—BPOs, for example—to shift to a work-from-home (WFH) model. But despite the proven efficiency gains of this model, organizations that deal with sensitive customer information remain unsure about continuing the WFH model post pandemic.

A chief concern is the threat to data security that remote workers can pose. A CISCO study found that nearly 6% of employees admitted to transferring files between work and personal computers when working from home, a behavior that puts a company’s data at risk. But such an issue can be resolved by using a private crowd solution, preferably one that is ISO certified, HIPAA and GDPR compliant.

Removing the threat of accessibility

One of the greater risks to data privacy has nothing to do with where the work is done. By giving a single employee a view of any document containing sensitive customer information in its entirety, an organization opens itself up to risk. A completed loan application, for example, has all manner of personal data, from Tax ID to bank account numbers.

Addressing compliance concerns

You need to able to track and prove exactly what happened—and when—with your data. When looking at crowdsourcing data entry, for example, that means you should seek an option that offers recording of every keystroke of anyone working on your data. Some businesses are restricted to using a workforce from specific locations. This, too, should be possible with the right crowdsourcing solution.

So, is crowdsourcing safe?

Crowdsourcing offers huge efficiency gains and reduced costs, but when it comes to data security, how can strangers all over the world be safer than your own employees? They can, but it depends on how you crowdsource. Massive scale and higher quality data shouldn’t have to come at the cost of compromised data security. Watch this short video to learn how we’ve made crowdsourcing safe for even the most sensitive personal data.

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